Fingernail Nutrition And Healthy TipsFingernails and toenails are basically build up of keratin, a hard, strong protein that’s also found in your hair and skin. A lack of healthy protein in the diet will often lead to brittle, soft nails. The easiest options for proteins are lean meats, low-fat dairy and eggs, but protein can also be obtained from vegetable sources, such as soy, beans and legumes.
Nails are structurally made up of a number of components. First is the nail plate, which is the visible nail you see when you look at fingers or toes. Underneath that is the nail bed, which is a layer of sensitive skin that is anchored to your nail plate. On all three sides of the nail are nail folds, which simply refer to the skin that surrounds and "folds" into your nails. Within the nail plate is the cuticle and lunula, the first of which is tissue that is connected to the nail fold and the nail plate, and the latter of which is the whitish, half-moon-shaped area found at the base of the nail. Your nails grow from under the cuticle in a place called the "matrix," averaging just 0.1 millimeters of growth a day equal to one-tenth of an inch each month.
Nails make it easier to pick up small things, clean a frying pan, and scratch an itch. They also provide an external sign of our health, with weak, brittle nails often signaling some nutritional deficiency. Unexpected changes in the fingernails could also be a sign of several types of cancer. But even just ignoring your nails, you could wind up with painful ingrown nails or annoying fungal infections.
Nails grow about one-tenth of a millimeter a day, which means that it takes a fingernail about four to six months to fully regenerate. Healthy nails appear smooth, without ridges or grooves. They are uniform in color and consistency and free of spots or discoloration.
Similar to symptoms such as fatigue, bloating or rashes, the health of our nails is often an indicator of what is going on inside your body. For example, ridges or spots in the nail bed can often indicate a nutritional deficiency while discoloration of the nails, such as a green or yellow color, can indicate a more serious condition such as chronic bronchitis.
If you have a vitamin or mineral deficiency, it can show up as dry, cracked, brittle, and irregularly shaped nails. Here’s some important information that will help you maintain your fingernail health and remedy dry, brittle nails:
• A deficiency in B-complex vitamins, especially biotin, will produce ridges along the nail bed.
• A diet lacking in calcium contributes to dry, brittle nails.
• A lack of folic acid and vitamin C can lead to hangnails.
• Insufficient dietary essential oils, like omega-3, cause cracking.
B-vitamins are abundant in organ meats, like liver and kidneys, as well as fish, cheese, yogurt, milk, eggs, mushrooms, beans (especially chickpeas), avocadoes, bananas, nuts, seeds, and whole grains.
• Calcium-rich foods include all dairy foods, especially yogurt, dark green leafy vegetables, almonds, beans, and sardines.
• You will find vitamin C in citrus fruits, red peppers, broccoli, dark greens, kiwis, and strawberries.
• Folic acid is especially plentiful in orange juice, beans, whole grains, and green vegetables.
• Essential fatty acids are found in fatty fish such as tuna, salmon, trout, mackerel, and herring, as well as flaxseeds, nuts, seeds, and tofu.
Eating a healthy, balanced diet is the only way to nourish your nails from the inside-out, but taking care of your nails with these quick beauty tips is also important.
1. To keep your nails hydrated, rub a small amount of petroleum jelly into your cuticle and the skin surrounding your nails every evening before you go to bed or whenever your nails feel dry. Keep a jar in your purse, desk drawer, car anywhere you might need it. Not a fan of petroleum jelly? Substitute castor oil. It’s thick and contains vitamin E, which is great for your cuticles. Or head to your kitchen cupboard and grab the olive oil it also works to moisturize your nails.
2. Wear rubber gloves whenever you do housework or wash dishes. Most household chores, from gardening to scrubbing the bathroom to washing dishes, are murderous on your nails. To protect your digits from dirt and harsh cleaners, cover them with vinyl gloves whenever it’s chore time. And for extra hand softness, apply hand cream before you put on the rubber gloves.
3. Dry your hands for at least two minutes after doing the dishes, taking a bath/shower, etc. Also dry your toes thoroughly after swimming or showering. Leaving them damp increases your risk of fungal infection.
4. Air out your work boots and athletic shoes. Better yet, keep two pairs and switch between them so you’re never putting your feet into damp, sweaty shoes, which could lead to fungal infections.
5. Wear 100 percent cotton socks. They’re best for absorbing dampness, thus preventing fungal infections.
6. Add a glass of milk and a hard-boiled egg to your daily diet. Rich in zinc, they’ll do wonders for your nails, especially if your nails are spotted with white, a sign of low zinc intake.
7. Make your nails as strong as a horse’s hooves, and take 300 micrograms of the B vitamin biotin four to six times a day. Long ago, veterinarians discovered that biotin strengthened horses’ hooves, which are made from keratin, the same substance in human nails. Swiss researchers found that people who took 2.5 milligrams of biotin a day for 5.5 months had firmer, harder nails. In a U.S. study, 63 percent of people taking biotin for brittle nails experienced an improvement.
8. When pushing back your cuticles (it is not necessary to cut them) come in at a 45-degree angle and be very gentle. Otherwise the cuticle will become damaged, weakening the entire nail.
9. Trim your toenails straight across to avoid ingrown toenails. This is particularly important if you have diabetes.
10. File your nails correctly. To keep your nails at their strongest, avoid filing in a back-and-forth motion only go in one direction. And never file just after you’ve gotten out of a shower or bath wet nails break more easily.
11. Massage your nails to keep them extra strong and shiny. Nails buffing increases blood supply to the nail, which stimulates the matrix of the nail to grow.
12. Polish your nails, even if it’s just with a clear coat. It protects your nails, says manicurist Diaconescu. If you prefer color, use a base coat, two thin coats of color, and a top coat. Color should last at least seven days but should be removed after 10 days.
13. Avoid polish removers with acetone or formaldehyde. They’re terribly drying to nails. Use acetate-based removers instead.
14. Stretch out the beauty of a manicure by applying a fresh top coat every day.
It's easy to neglect your nails but there's much you can do to keep your fingernails healthy and strong. Start with basic fingernail care.
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