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Strong and Healthy Nails

By: Corinna Underwood - Updated: 25 Nov 2010 | comments*Discuss
Healthy Nails Nail Strength Cuticles

Nails protect the nerve-rich tips of the fingers and toes from injury. They are composed mainly of a type of protein called keratin. Nails grow from 0.05mm up to 1.2mm each week. If a nail is lost completely it takes about seven months to grow out fully. Healthy nail beds are pink, indicating a rich blood supply. Changes in the appearance and texture of nails often relate to nutritional deficiencies or other underlying problems. The condition of your nails can reveal a lot about your total health.

What Your Nails Reveal About You

The following are some changes that can be caused by nutritional deficiencies:

  • Lack of vitamin A and calcium causes dryness and brittleness
  • Lack of protein, folic acid and vitamin C causes hang nails
  • White bands across the nails are caused by protein deficiency
  • A lack of sufficient hydrochloric acid can cause splitting nail
  • Vitamin B12 deficiency can cause dryness and splitting, overly rounded ends and discolouration of nails
  • Insufficient zinc can cause development of white spots on the nails
  • Cuts and cracks in the nails may indicate a need for more liquids
  • Red skin around your cuticles can be caused by poor metabolism of essential fatty acids

How to Treat Your Nails with Care

  • If you have to do a job that requires you to repeatedly immerse your hands in water that contains detergents or chemicals such as bleach, wear protective rubber gloves at all times. Such harsh chemicals also cause the skin around the nail bed to dry out and crack, this can lead to bleed and can become painful and ultimately may cause severe infection.
  • Nail polish should not be used constantly. Though it looks attractive, if your natural nails are not allowed to breathe from time to time they will become unhealthy. Nail polish removers also leach natural lipids from the nails and make them brittle. The solvents in nail polish are also potentially toxic and can be absorbed through the skin.
  • Use artificial nails as infrequently as possible as these too can destroy the underlying natural nail if used all the time. The use of artificial nails can also contribute to the build up of fungus in the nail bed can cause fungal infection beneath the false nail. If you do use artificial nails, be extra vigilant about keeping your hands clean, particularly around your nails.

How to Promote Healthy Nails

  • Eat a diet composed of 50% fruit and raw vegetables in order to supply necessary vitamins, minerals and enzymes. Consume those foods that are rich in silicon and sulphur, such as fish, broccoli and onions. incorporate food rich in biotin such as brewer's yeast, soy and whole grains.
  • Drink plenty of water and other liquids.
  • Drink fresh carrot juice daily, this is high in calcium and phosphorus and is excellent for strengthening nails.
  • To restore colour and texture to nails, make a mixture of equal parts honey, avocado oil and egg yolk, with a pinch of salt. Rub into nails and leave on for about half an hour, then rinse. Used daily results should be seen in two weeks.
  • Do not cut your cuticles, this treatment is harsh and may cause irritation or infection. Soften your cuticles by soaking your fingers in warm water or olive oil, and then gently push your cuticles back.

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