Many people fight the battle for strong, healthy nails. The state of one’s nails is often a good predictor of a person’s general health, especially when it comes to diet—and consuming healthier foods can improve the appearance of your nails. Nutrient-dense ingredients, in particular, can have a long-term impact on the look of your manicure. So if your nails are weak, brittle, slow to grow, or lacklustre, examining your diet might be a smart idea.
According to Sarah Mirkin RD, CPT, your nails, like the rest of your body, require a nutritious diet to thrive. If you are malnourished, have a vitamin or mineral deficiency, or are skimping on protein, your nails will be one of the first parts of the body to show it.
What kind of foods make your nails grow faster
Brittle nails, or ones that show horizontal ridges, are typically caused by a lack of iron, calcium, magnesium, B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin D, or insufficient consumption of water and protein. Mirkin notes that an anti-inflammatory, high-protein diet rich in fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, and healthy fats will provide your nails with the nutrients they need to be strong and healthy.
To discover more about how to develop better nails, we spoke with a few specialists about their diet recommendations.
Hydration is essential, according to Gracie J, a nail stylist and the founder of The Editorial Nail. She suggests that cuticle oil is necessary on the outside, but water is essential internally. “Water aids in the delivery of nutrients and oxygen to the cells,” Gracie J says.
Mirkin confirms this, adding that dehydration can cause brittle, dry nails that break easily. “Don’t wait until you’re thirsty—you’re already dehydrated at that time,” she says. “Drink water or other hydrating liquids throughout the day. Try including hydrating foods including fruits, vegetables, yoghurt, and soups.”
Fatty acid-rich foods encourage healthy cell development, which aids in the growth of healthy nails and hair, according to Gracie J. Flaxseed, in particular—which is high in omega-3 fatty acids and thiamine—has been linked to improved hair and nail health. “Flaxseed is also high in magnesium, which many people don’t get enough of,” Mirkin says. “Magnesium is essential for maintaining nail health and preventing the formation of ridges on the nail bed.”
Grapefruit, which is packed with vitamins A and C, plus fibre, is one of Gracie J’s favourite foods for nail health—but its antioxidant content, notes Mirkin, is what makes the citrus such an optimal pick. This fruit is high in beta carotene, lycopene, and flavonoids, all of which are antioxidants that can protect your nails from free radical damage. Mirkin explains that grapefruits are also high in water content to aid in hydration. “Grapefruit seed extract has potent anti-fungal qualities, making it an effective natural therapy for nail fungus and athlete’s foot,” she says.
Eggs are a fantastic food for stronger and shinier nails, says Deborah Lippman, a celebrity manicurist and founder of Deborah Lippman, a line of lacquers and treatments for nails, hands, and feet. The morning classic is high in protein, vitamin D, B12, and biotin—making it an excellent choice for nail growth. “Because protein aids in the formation of keratin, it’s a great contribution in the development of stronger nails,” says Lippman. “I love recommending eggs since they contain biotin, which helps with nail thickness.”
According to Mirkin, it’s possible that a vitamin D deficiency is causing your nails to be dry and brittle—and that’s where eggs, which contain this nutrient, come in. “Eggs are also one of the most bioavailable protein sources,” she says. “Keratin is a protein found in nails. It’s critical to consume enough protein in your diet to maintain strong, healthy nails.”
Salmon is abundant in vitamin D, protein, biotin, zinc, copper, selenium, vitamins B6 and B1, and omega-3 fatty acids—all of which improve your nails. These micronutrients ultimately prevent your nails from breaking, splitting, or disintegrating altogether. Gracie J says that salmon is also one of her favourite foods since it is rich in fatty acids and helps maintain cell growth, which promotes the growth of healthy nails and hair.
Salmon is abundant in vitamin B12, which is required for the development of healthy red blood cells, along with other meats and dairy products, says Mirkin. Nail discolouration—due to a lack of vitamin B12—might be brown or grey, so be sure to monitor your nails for any telltale signs of a deficiency.
Lentils and beans are excellent vegan options for keeping nails strong and healthy. They are a fantastic source of biotin, says Mirkin, which creates a longer, thicker manicure. “Lentils and beans contain iron, which prevents anaemia, a condition that wreaks havoc on your nails. They’re also high in protein, which is required for keratin formation,” she says.
Nutritional yeast is another vegan superfood that is high in protein, which is necessary for keratin formation. It also contains a lot of vitamins from the B complex. According to Mirkin, just 2 tablespoons provides more than three times your daily intake of vitamin B12—and around 69 percent of the daily value of biotin. Use nutritional yeast to provide a cheesy, nutty, or savoury flavour to a variety of recipes, while also providing a nutritional boost to your body and nails.
(Hero Image and Featured Image Courtesy: Tatyana Kochkina/Getty Images)
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