Fingernails Vitamin Deficiency

Erin Coleman, R.D., L.D.
vitamin deficient nails

Fingernails Vitamin Deficiency

Believe it or not, being deficient in certain nutrients can take a toll on your fingernails. This may include brittleness, dryness, changes in shape, and even discoloration. That's why knowing which vitamin deficiencies affect your nails, and how to correct or prevent the problem, is important when you want to maintain healthy-looking hands.

Folate deficient nails

Discolored Nails (Brown or Gray)

Being deficient in vitamin B12 or folate could mean brown or gray (or other discolored) fingernails or toenails, according to a 2015 issue of Podiatry Today. Get plenty of vitamin B12 in your diet to correct (or prevent) nail discoloration by taking a multivitamin supplement containing vitamin B12, getting B12 injections (if your doctor recommends it), or eating vitamin B12-rich foods like lean meats, fish, seafood, chicken, eggs, dairy foods, and B12-fortified breakfast cereals.

spoon nails

Koilonychia (Spoon Nails)

Koilonychia, otherwise known as spoon nails, is a condition that can be caused by iron deficiency, according to the American Family Physician. The condition makes your nails soft with spoon-shaped indentations. An iron-rich diet (or iron-containing multivitamin supplements) helps prevent spoon nails from occurring. Foods rich in iron include meats, seafood, eggs, tofu, legumes, iron-fortified breakfast cereals, spinach, and tofu.

low calcium nails

Transverse Leukonychia (White Spots or Lines)

Transverse Leukonychia can happen for several reasons, and low calcium is one of them, according to a 2012 review in the Indian Journal of Dermatology, Venereology, and Leprology. This condition can cause opaque white spots, lines, or bands on multiple fingernails. To help boost calcium in your body, eat plenty of dairy foods, tofu, calcium-fortified orange juice, calcium-fortified breakfast cereal, and leafy greens.

Beau's lines

Beau’s Lines (Nail Indentations)

Beau's lines can be caused by zinc deficiency, notes Mayo Clinic. This type of nail condition causes indentations (lines) that run across the length of your nails. To be sure you're getting plenty of zinc and prevent nail deformities caused by Beau's lines, eat zinc-rich meats, fish, seafood, chicken, dairy foods (like yogurt), legumes, and zinc-fortified breakfast cereals.

low biotin fingernails

Fungal Nail Infections

Getting too little biotin in your diet can lead to fungal nail infections, according to Podiatry Today. This type of infection leads to unhealthy-looking, discolored nails. Sources of dietary biotin include supplements, liver, egg yolks, yeast, pork, fish, avocado, whole grains, and some vegetables.

split fingernails

Brittle, Splitting Nails

If your nails are dry, brittle, and splitting, it could be another sign of iron - or biotin - deficiency, notes the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology. Zinc, magnesium, and calcium deficiencies may also be culprits, according to the 2012 review in the Indian Journal of Dermatology, Venereology, and Leprology. Getting plenty of iron-, zinc-, magnesium-, calcium-, and biotin-rich foods and supplements can help prevent (or reverse) this nail condition. But always check with your doctor before taking dietary supplements.

nail separation due to vitamin C deficiency

Onycholysis (Nail Bed Separation)

Onycholysis, which occurs when the nail separates from the nail bed underneath it, can happen with iron deficiency, notes the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology. Vitamin C deficiency may also be a culprit for onycholysis, notes a 2015 review in the Indian Dermatology Online Journal. When onycholysis happens, the separated nail can become yellow, green, or white in color. Many fruits (especially citrus fruits) and veggies are rich in vitamin C.

nail grooves

Onychorrhexis (Longitudinal Lines/Striations)

A condition called onychorrhexis appears as longitudinal lines, striations, projecting ridges, or indented grooves in your nails. The 2015 review in the Indian Dermatology Online Journal says onychorrhexis can happen when you're body is deficient in iron, protein, or folic acid. The 2012 review in the Indian Journal of Dermatology, Venereology, and Leprology says low calcium and zinc may also be a cause. Make sure these nutrients are in your multivitamin supplement, and eat plenty of iron-, zinc-, calcium-, and folate-rich foods.

nail beading

Nail Beading

The 2015 issue of Podiatry Today says nail beading (bead-like bumps on nails that look like dripping wax) can be caused by vitamin B deficiencies. So be sure to get plenty of meats, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy foods, grains, nuts, legumes, and leafy greens in your diet by choosing well-balanced meals.

White colored nails

Leukonychia (White Nails)

Leukonychia, or white-colored nails, can results from anemia (iron or B12 deficiency) says Podiatry Today -- or zinc deficiency, reports a 2009 review in the Journal of the Turkish Academy of Dermatology. Help prevent Leukonychia by eating plenty of iron- and vitamin B12-rich foods to prevent anemia -- and meeting your body's zinc RDA.

nail clubbing

Nail Clubbing

The 2012 review published in the Indian Journal of Dermatology, Venereology, and Leprology says iodine deficiency causes cretinism and clubbing of nails. This condition makes your nail bed and fingertips expand to form club-shaped fingers. Prevention measures include an iodine-rich diet (iodized salt, fish, seafood, dairy foods, and eggs) or multivitamin supplements containing iodine.

Healthy nails

Maintaining Healthy Nails

Meeting daily vitamin and mineral requirements with healthy eating habits and a daily multivitamin supplement helps you avoid unhealthy-looking nails. But keep in mind other medical conditions can cause your nails to become disfigured, so check with your doctor if you notice anything unusual.

Erin Coleman, R.D., L.D.
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Fingernails Vitamin Deficiency