I once had a roommate whose mother (who happened to be a nurse) would always check her nails when she went home for the holidays to make sure she was eating properly. It turns out you can tell a lot about your diet—or more specifically, what you’re lacking in your diet—by the state of your nails. That means that by eating the proper foods you can ensure that your nails are always long, strong, and healthy!
If your nails are dull and don’t have the kind of glossy sheen you want, it might be because you are not getting enough of the important B vitamin folate. It becomes particularly important to pay attention to your folate intake as you age, as the body doesn’t absorb it so easily with passing years. Legumes such as lentils, peas and beans are high in folate, and leafy greens such as spinach will also do some good!
Another important nutrient for nail health is iron—the nail disease koilonychias is often associated with iron-deficiency. Foods that are rich in iron include eggs and spinach, and it’s important to pair them with foods that are high in Vitamin C such as tomatoes and citrus fruits, to help the body absorb it better. Iron is most readily available through red meats like beef, pork, or lamb, and lean red meats also have the added benefit of being a great source of protein. Nails are made of proteins called keratin, so to get stronger nails, you need to consume proteins that help them grow. Other foods that are rich in protein include fish like salmon and mackerel, cheese, and nuts.
Your nails will also benefit from essential fatty acids, which will reduce brittleness and flaking and give your nails a more moisturized, healthy look. Omega-3s are the best way to get these essential nutrients, so be sure to introduce more foods that are high in Omega-3 into your diet. These foods include flaxseed, salmon, spinach, and walnuts. Another technique to ensure your nails are dried out is to rub olive oil on your nail beds every night to increase hydration.
With these small additions to your diet you’ll have glowing, healthy nails!