Author: Darrell Miller
The nails are responsible for protecting the nerve-rich fingertips and tips of the toes from injury. Nails are part of the epidermis, which is the outer layer of skin. They are mainly composed of keratin, which is a type of protein. The nail bed is the skin on top of which the nails grow, as they grow from 0.05 to 1.2 millimeters each week. If a nail is lost, it takes approximately seven months for it to grow out fully.
Those nail beds that are healthy are pink, which indicates a rich blood supply. Changes or abnormalities in the nails are often a result of nutritional deficiencies or other underlying conditions. The nails are able to reveal a great deal about the body's internal health. Nail abnormalities on either the fingers or the toes can give evidence to an underlying disorder.
There are many changes that nutritional deficiencies can produce in the nails. A lack of protein, folic acid, and vitamin C are responsible for hang nails, while white bands across the nails are an indicator for protein deficiency. Dryness and brittleness indicates a lack of vitamin A and calcium. Horizontal and vertical ridges in the nails means that there is a deficiency of the B vitamins, while an insufficient intake of vitamin B12 can lead to excessive dryness, very rounded and curved nail ends, and darkened nails. Iron deficiency can lead to nails that develop a concave shape and/or vertical ridges. White spots on the nails can be caused by a deficiency of zinc. Inadequate amounts of friendly bacteria in the body can result in the growth of fungus under and around the nails, while a lack of hydrochloric acid contributes to the splitting of nails.
The following supplements are essential in promoting healthy nail growth. Unless otherwise specified, the dosages given are for adults. For children between the ages of twelve and seventeen, the dose should be reduced to three-quarters of the recommended amount. For children between six and twelve, one-half of the recommended dose should be used, while one-quarter of the amount should be used for children under the age of six.
Acidophilus should be taken as directed on the label, as it inhibits the harmful bacteria that cause fungal infection. A free-form amino acid complex can also be taken as directed on the label, on an empty stomach, to provide the building materials for new nails. Silica supplies silicon, which is needed for hair, bones, and strong nails. It should be taken as directed on the label. Vitamin A emulsion should be taken in dosages of 50,000 IU daily, as the body cannot utilize protein without vitamin A. Black currant seed oil is helpful for weak, brittle nails and should be taken in dosages of 500 mg twice daily. Calcium and magnesium should be taken as directed on the label, as they are necessary for nail growth.
Iron should be taken as directed by a physician, as deficiency produces spoon nails and/or vertical ridges. A vitamin B complex should be taken as directed on the label, as deficiencies result in fragile nails. To prevent hangnails and inflammation of the tissue surrounding the nail, 3,000 to 6,000 mg daily of vitamin C with bioflavonoids should be taken. 50 mg daily of zinc is beneficial for affecting absorption and action of vitamins and enzymes.
Additionally, the following herbs are helpful: alfalfa, black cohosh, burdock root, dandelion, gotu kola, yellow dock, horsetail, oat straw, borage seed, flaxseed, lemongrass, parsley, primrose, pumpkin seed, sage, butcher's broom, chamomile, ginkgo biloba, rosemary, sassafras, and turmeric.
Healthy looking nails can tell you if your body is getting the right nutrients from your diet. When you find your nails are not looking well, consider the above vitamins, minerals and herbs to help restore healthy looking finger and toe nails. The vitamins and herbs listed can be found at your local or internet health food store.
More information on nail health is available at VitaNet ®, LLC Health Food Store. http://vitanetonline.com/