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How Your Diet Can Affect Your Nails

Ways to improve nail growth and strength through what you eat

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Diet and Nail Growth
Photo Taken by: Martin Harvey / Getty Images

Wouldn't it be amazing if we could change the composition of our nails and encourage healthier growth? Well, we can.  The adage 'You are what you eat' not only applies to skin and hair but to nails as well. 

Parents are told to feed their children and babies specific formulas rich in various nutrients which promote growth and strength. So why do stop when we are adults? Continuing to improve your body from the inside out is a great approach to life.

So if you are looking to improve the overall appearance and condition of your nails follow our must-have tips:

Nail Composition

Scientifically, nail tissue is known as Stratified Epithelium.  Epithelial tissue covers the entire human body in one form or another, on the nail it is stratified (layered.)  The seal or top coat of this tissue is keratinized; it is hard and tough to protect the more sensitive bed of the nail.  Our nails exist to protect our fingers therefore it is important they receive the correct nutrients in order to do their job. 

Nails can display tell tale signs of certain chronic health conditions:


Horizontal ridges can indicate previous illness or infection.  

Vertical ridges show a poor diet, perhaps one largely built on junk food.

Very pale nails point to anaemia.

Nails that break easily could be a sign of a calcium deficient diet.

Zinc deficiency is clear when white spots are present on the nails.

Diet

The Keratin, or tough protein, that forms the visible surface of the nail (the part we paint) is in fact dead.  What you are nurturing is the part of the nail which is not yet visible and exists below the cuticle line.

Adding protein to the diet is essential to build calcium and encourage healthy nails.  It can be found in various types of oily fish, cold-pressed oils, red meat, chicken breast, nuts and sunflower seeds.  Supplements are often beneficial, if you are vegetarian calcium supplements should be taken as well as biotin(B-complex) and vitamins C and E. One of our favorite forms of Biotin comes from Vitol's Hair-Nails-Skin Tabs (Compare Prices). Smoking (which can deplete zinc in the body), excessive alcohol intake, stress, or a sedentary lifestyle can all contribute to the poor uptake of protein and other essential nutrients even when they are present in good quantities in the diet. Hydration of the body is also an extremely important part of nail health.  If you are dehydrated inside it will be reflected on the lack luster of your hair as well as your brittle and ridged nails.  Coconut water is a good source of internal hydratration. Once of our favorite's is Pure Vita Coconut Water (Compare Prices) because it's 100% cocunut water, housed in an environmentally friendly tetra pack.

Growth and Improvement

If you are impatient, nail transformation can be frustrating because it will not happen overnight. The nail growth cycle is relatively slow and is dependent on various factors such as age, overall health, climate, and season.  

The nails on the thumbs and little fingers grow the slowest. The quickest growing nails are the middle fingers, then index fingers, with the ring fingers next in line.  The nails on the dominant hand will grow quickest because blood flow (circulation) encourages nail growth.  Therefore if you are looking to encourage faster growth massage of hands and finger nails would also be beneficial.  Hobbies like guitar and piano playing, as well as typing, will also speed up nail growth.

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