Nail Health 101

I’m lucky I have naturally feminine-ish hands since I take care of them like a total dude. I keep them really short. And I don’t usually paint them since I’ll obsess over one air bubble or one chip.

And while I’m a health-beauty enthusiast, I’m wary of the whole “lengthening”, “strengthening”, “smoothing” nail polish primers. I’m more interested in how to make them stronger, less brittle, and smoother in a natural way.

I came across an article by Kamila Fiore, ARNP, NP-C,  who outlines the nutritional causes and remedies for nail concerns. Let’s stay as au naturel as possible peeps!

Here are the key tips from the article:

1. Peeling. If your nails are peeling, dryness is probably the cause. Just as your skin loses moisture with each passing year, your nails lose natural oils. Exposure to harsh detergents and acetone nail polish remover can accelerate the effects.

Quick fix: I tell my patients to hydrate their nails by soaking them in olive oil a few times a week. And before bed every night, apply a thin layer of castor oil to the nails and cuticles. You should see a difference within a week or two.

2. Ridges. If your nail beds have an uneven, ridged surface, you might be missing out on a vitamin B12, also known as methylcobalamin. Other signs that you aren’t getting enough B12 are dry, brittle hair, fatigue and memory loss.

Quick fix: You need at least 100 mcg of vitamin B12 every day. Meat, fish and eggs are the best sources.

3. Breaking. Weak nails may be a sign that you need more nutrients – specifically, the structural proteins and amino acids that your nails are made out of.

Quick fix: Here are three things you need to nourish your nails for a stronger, smoother manicure…

    • Animal protein. Remember that your body doesn’t store protein, so you need to have it at every meal. Get all the grass-fed meat you can, because it’s rich in protein and the eight essential amino acids you need. Free-range eggs and wild-caught fish are also great sources of protein.

If you’re a vegetarian, you’re missing out on 12 essential nutrients you need every day – including coenzyme Q10 and vitamins A, B12 and D. I recommend getting more protein from spirulina, quinoa and hempseed.

    • Biotin. Also called vitamin B7, biotin is well-known for toughening up weak nails. You can get more biotin from liver, egg yolks, nuts, cauliflower, milk and legumes.
    • Silica. This mineral gives your nails their structure. It’s a great way to help weak, brittle nails grow back stronger than ever. Seafood, green beans, spinach, root vegetables and beer are good sources of silica. But the best natural source in the supplement world is bamboo extract.