Do you have some health problems? You should look to your fingernails.
By Vicky Uhland
We always say that our eyes are the windows to our souls, but also we can say that our nails are the screen doors to our bodies. More than just cosmetic annoyances, brittle, ridged, or yellow fingernails and toenails can indicate nutrient deficiencies and health problems ranging from anemia to thyroid disease.
Lisa Petty is a holistic nutritionist in Canada and author of Living Beauty and she says that when we don’t treat our body well, our nails suffer in the in most of cases. Also she says that when nutrients go into our bodies, hair, the skin, and nails get them last. So a nail problem can signal a problem in our bodies.
Made of keratin protein, fingernails and toenails protect the ultra-sensitive skin at the end of our fingers and toes, known as the nail bed. Our nails are formed by nail matrices, which are collections of nerves, lymph vessels, and blood vessels protected by cuticles. Our nails can grow in a variety of shapes based on individual genetics. But when our nails are healthy they share similar characteristics: They are not easily breakable, smooth and translucent. The pink color on our nails comes from the network of tiny blood vessels underneath the nail plate. But the actual nail can become discolored, damaged or just plain unsightly, if our nail matrices don’t get enough nutrients.
Fortunately, with diet changes, vitamins, supplements, and simple maintenance you can fix most nail problems. We will show you below how to combat common nail woes and make your tattered talons healthy and strong.
Problem: Soft or upward-curving nails
This problem can be caused by iron deficiency.
How can you resolve this problem: If tests confirm low iron, you should take 325 mg of iron sulfate three times a day, this is recommended by Eisen?
Problem: Brittle or split nails
This nail problem can be caused by lack of moisture or not enough of the B vitamin biotin.
How can you resolve this problem: You should take 2,000 mcg of biotin daily, says Richard Eisner, MD, a dermatologist at South Shore Skin Center in Massachusetts, or nosh on biotin-rich cauliflower, lentils, and peanuts? Also you can moisturize your nails from the inside with 1,000 mg of fish oil per day that contains eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).You can keep them hydrated on the outside if you apply natural oil twice a day, like almond, and wear gloves when washing dishes to keep nails from drying out.
Problem: Vertical ridges
It can be caused ageing (think of vertical ridges as wrinkles on your nails)
How can you resolve this problem: To smooth out ridges, you should polish your nails with a few drops of almond oil and a chamois buffer. Because buffing removes a thin layer of nail, you can take only three or four swipes per nail per week. It is recommendable to avoid conventional ridge fillers, because they use synthetic chemicals, like noxious polyester resin, to fill in grooves.
Problem: Horizontal ridges or dents
It can be caused by trauma. It means trauma caused by picking at your cuticle or continually hitting the front edge of your nail on a paper-towel dispenser, can create ridges. Dents indicate that some condition—a high fever, nutritional deficiencies, psoriasis, or trauma from surgery—has actually affected nail growth.
How to resolve this problem: You need to eat enough protein (daily recommendation is 55 grams). Petty advises supplementing with up to 10,000 IU of vitamin A daily to help your nails metabolize the protein, along with 3 mg of choline-stabilized orthosilicic acid (dietary silicon) to strengthen nails.
This problem can be caused by bacteria that grow when the nail matrix and cuticle are continually exposed to warmth and moisture. This fungal infections can spread rapidly, especially if is under toenails. Signs which indicate on this problem include yellow, greenish, or dirty-looking nails; thickness; or separation of the nail from the nail bed.
How to resolve this problem: You can soak your nails in antibacterial pure tea tree oil for 15 minutes a day until the fungus clears. Or take one 200 mg capsule of the antifungal herb myrrh three times a day, says Norma Pasekoff Weinberg, author of Natural Hand Care (Storey Publishing, 1998). Note that topical and oral fungal medications are not a sure fix and may cause liver problems, says Elizabeth K. Hale, MD, clinical associate professor of dermatology at New York University.
Problem: Yellow nails
It can be caused by lack of vitamin E or not giving nails enough time to breathe between polishes
Solutions: Eisen recommends 400 IU of vitamin E twice a day. Almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, sweet potatoes, and wheat germ oil are also good sources of this antioxidant.
Problem: White spots
It can be caused by nail trauma or zinc deficiency
How can you resolve this problem: Petty recommends 50 mg of zinc daily. Also you can get zinc from, sesame seeds, pumpkinseeds, red meat and peas. As the nail grows, white spots caused by trauma will disappear.
When you should be worry
The following nail blights accompanied by disease symptoms, such as shortness of breath or fatigue, could indicate these far-more-serious conditions.
- Brittle nails: hyper- or hypothyroidism
- Upward-curving nails: thyroid disease
- Blue nail beds: circulation problems
- Yellow nails: chronic bronchitis
- Red nail beds: heart disease
- White nail beds: liver disease