It's not just genetics that determines what type of nails we end up with. Our lifestyles and diets play a big part in our overall health – and that translates straight to our nails. From nails that won’t grow to nails that are weak and peeling, there’s a nutrition cure for almost every complaint. Here are the four key nutrients that can make your nails stronger, longer, and healthier from the inside out.
Nails are made of keratin, a protein, which is why a protein-rich diet is important to maintaining nail health. If you eat meat, eggs, or other protein-rich foods regularly, there’s no need to worry. But if you don’t eat meat, add these vegetarian protein sources to your diet, such as quinoa, beans, and meat substitutes like tofu and seitan. This will ensure you’re getting balanced meals and the nutrients your nails need to stay healthy.
Tip: You can buy quinoa ready-made at many supermarkets and online delivery services like Fresh Direct. Refrigerate (or freeze if you don't plan to use within a few days), and just reheat and eat for an easy, healthy, protein-filled meal.
A lack of zinc in your diet could be the reason your nails are weak or not growing. It’s also a lack of zinc that can cause the white spots many of us notice on our nails. If you have any of these issues, it’s time to eat more of this important mineral. Oysters are rich in zinc, as are pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, lamb, beef, and oats.
Tip: Not sure where to start? Roasted pumpkin seeds are a great idea. Get your zinc in a delicious way by making this healthy snack.
Not getting enough iron? If your nails are thin, curved, or have ridges, it’s usually a telltale sign of anemia or an iron deficiency. Stock up on red meat, leafy greens like spinach and kale, and shellfish, all of which can supply your body with much-needed iron.
Tip: In the past few years, nutrient-powerhouse kale has become the go-to ingredient in healthy salads, snacks, and smoothies, and no – it doesn’t taste terrible! Here are some healthy kale recipes and more facts about the nutrition it provides.
The B-vitamin Biotin promotes healthy cell growth and helps the body metabolize protein-building amino acids – all good things when it comes to helping nails grow stronger and healthier. A supplement is the easiest way to get Biotin into your diet, especially when you consider that you have to take it regularly to see results. But if you prefer to get your vitamins the natural way, you can find Biotin in foods like swiss chard (a top source), eggs, wheat germ, whole grains, and salmon.
Tip: I’ve tried many hair and nail boosters, and I’ve gotten the question, “Do they work?” many times. The short answer? Yes. But you have to pick one with the right ingredients – and an adequate amount of each ingredient. I love Reserveage Organics Keratin Booster™ supplement, which contains 1000% of the recommended daily value of Biotin, among other healthy hair and nail nutrients like Cynatine® HNS, a form of easily absorbable keratin (the protein that nails are made of). I definitely see my nails (and hair!) growing stronger and healthier with regular use of this supplement.