A lot of women love to get their nails done, whether it’s a normal manicure, gels or acrylics. Either way, our nails look amazing — until we take off the fancy manicures and see the effects of getting our nails done too many times in a row! Or maybe your nails are just naturally like this, which could be an indication of other health problems or deficiencies.
Have you noticed that your nails are thin, dry, brittle and easily breaking for some reason? Uh-oh!
However you’ve found yourself in this position, know that there are some ways to get them looking naturally fabulous again. This includes vitamins. Yes — it could be as easy as vitamins!
Below are nine essential vitamins for healthy nails that can get you back to looking and feeling amazing.
Nine Vitamins for Healthy Nails
Before jumping into these useful vitamins, it’s important to know that stocking up on vitamins won’t make your body magically change. By this we mean that your body can only process a certain amount, so taking more than the serving won’t increase the impact. Your body will process what it needs and discard the rest.
Also remember that what works for one person may not work for everyone. Each body is different and we all need different things depending on hormones, stress, diet and so many other factors. Don’t get discouraged if one of these doesn’t work — simply try something else until you find what works for you.
Now onto the nine essential vitamins for healthy nails!
1. Vitamin A
Vitamin A is a group of fat-soluble compounds that includes retinol, retinal and retinoic acid. It is important for cell growth and cell specialization.
By taking vitamin A, you are helping the specialized cells within the nail matrix to remain healthy and replace themselves quickly to push the nail up and out. All in all, vitamin A can help your nails grow faster and stronger.
Vitamin A has several other benefits as well. These benefits include protecting your eyes, reducing risks of certain cancers, supporting a healthy immune system and healthy bones, and promoting healthy growth and reproduction.
2. B Vitamins, Including B12
It may be rare, but if your nails are brittle, you could have a B12 deficiency. According to The Journal of Family Practice, a B12 deficiency can manifest itself as “entirely blue nails, bluish-black pigment with wavy longitudinal dark streaks, brownish networklike pigmentation and longitudinal darkened streaks.”
By taking a B12 vitamin supplement or acquiring the vitamin through animal products such as fish, poultry, meat, eggs or dairy, you’ll be helping your body get the proper vitamin it needs to maintain healthy nails.
It is recommended that adults consume 2.4 mcg of vitamin B12 per day to help their nails grow strong and healthy without discoloration or pigmentation.
When it comes to your skin, hair and nails, biotin is the big word that typically gets thrown around. Biotin, otherwise known as a B-complex vitamin, or vitamin B7 or vitamin H, helps to promote cell growth and aids in how our bodies metabolize amino acids that build protein. All of this is essential to growing those fabulous nails of yours!
In a study on the effects of biotin by the National Institutes of Health, out of 45 participants with thin or brittle nails, 41 saw firmer and harder fingernails after using biotin for an average of five and a half months.
Biotin can also be found in everyday foods such as dairy products, eggs, salmon, avocados, nuts and seeds.
4. Vitamin C
Vitamin C is very important for the production of collagen in our bodies. Collagen helps to form and strengthen our skin, connective tissues and bones, which ultimately help to maintain the integrity of our nails.
By getting the essential amount of vitamin C daily, you can promote strong nails and prevent brittleness and slow growth.
Vitamin C is not just found in citrus fruits such as oranges, kiwis and strawberries. It’s also common in other foods like tomatoes, green vegetables and bell peppers.
Calcium is essential for your nails, especially when it comes to maintaining their hardness and structure and the health of the nail bed.
Increasing your calcium intake alone is unlikely to solve the problem. So, along with calcium, it’s also recommended that you increase your vitamin D intake. This vitamin helps your body absorb calcium from the food you eat.
Calcium can be found in milk, cheese, tofu, nuts and green leafy vegetables.
If your nails are peeling, you may be experiencing an iron deficiency. Peeling can sometimes be caused by other external factors as well, though.
Iron makes up the center of red blood cells, which carry oxygen to every part of the body, including your nails. Without iron, the oxygen cannot efficiently be carried to the cells and different parts of the body. This results in peeling or the vertical ridges that can sometimes be seen on nails.
Iron can be found in animal foods such as fish, beef, chicken and eggs. It can also be found in plant-based foods such as peanuts, beans, seeds and dark-green leafy vegetables.
7. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids can do a lot to help your body, from reducing the risk of a heart attack to helping you fight depression and anxiety. But did you know they can also help your nails grow stronger and make them less likely to split?
These fatty acids moisturize your body from the inside out, which can help your nails grow quicker and make them look shinier. Not only this, but Omega-3’s can also potentially help reduce inflammation in your nail beds, which is where new cells form for your nail plate.
Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in salmon, tuna, trout, walnuts, soy, eggs, fish, flaxseed oil and many other products.
Your nails are made from a structural protein called keratin, which is the same protein that also makes up your hair. Keratin is what makes your nails strong and quick to recover. It’s also what protects them from damage.
To keep your nails growing, it’s important to provide your body with the correct amount of protein every day. Getting a sufficient amount of protein is essential for maintaining and even increasing keratin production.
Protein can be found in a lot of different foods, including meat, fish, eggs, dairy, seeds and whole grains.
Although you may not talk about zinc daily, it’s actually very important for a plethora of different reactions that occur in your body, including cell division.
Nails are made from rapidly growing and dividing cells. This means that an adequate zinc intake will make sure your nails continue to grow how they are supposed to. Without zinc, your nail bed could deteriorate — and no one wants that!
You can get your required daily amount of zinc from foods such as beef, poultry, eggs and fish. Don’t eat meat? No worries! You can acquire zinc from black beans, chickpeas, nuts and so much more.
A Reminder About Taking Care of Your Nails
Although these essential vitamins are great for maintaining and promoting healthy nails, it’s also important to remember to take care of your nails outside of just taking vitamins. By this, we mean you should consider slowing down on the gel and acrylic nails. Consistent and repeated application of these can make your nails weak, thin and dry.
Instead, take a few weeks or months in between to let your nails breathe and grow again.