Nails are part of the outer layer of skin and are made of a protein called keratin (the same hard protein that forms the outer layer of skin and hair). Healthy nails are strong and smooth and pink which indicates a good blood supply. Like hair, the nails need moisture for flexibility; without it, they become yellowish and break or chip easily. In order to maintain healthy growth and strength, nails require a steady supply of oxygen and other nutrients.
Function of Nail: The main function of nails is to protect the sensitive nerve endings from harm and injury.
Nail Growth: Normally, nails grow about 1/8 inch a month, although illness, advancing age, and even cold weather slow the rate of growth.
- Many of the numerous nutritional supplements that are promoted as nail builders actually have little if anything to do with nails. Gelatin is a good example; because it is made from animal hooves, many people assume that it contains the protein needed to build strong nails. In reality, however, gelatin is an incomplete protein and lacks the sulfurous amino acids that give nails their strength.
- Another misleading notion is that calcium supplements will harden nails. Because nails contain very little calcium, taking supplements will not enhance their growth or strength. The same is also true of zinc; in the past, the white spots that sometimes develop in nails have been attributed to a deficiency of this mineral. Those spots, however, are usually caused by an injury to the nails, and taking extra zinc – which plays little or no role in nail health – will not get rid of them.
Causes of Nail Problems:
- Vitamin and mineral deficiencies.
- Excessive cutting or pushing back of the cuticle, which functions like a bacteria shield, can put you at risk.
- Using nail wraps or polish can also lead to infection if moisture, bacteria, and yeast get trapped between the nail and nail bed.
- Aging, dry heat in winter, frequent immersion in water, or repeated use of strong nail polish removers can make nails brittle and prone to fungal and bacterial infection.
Prevention of Nail Problems:
- You can prevent fungal infection by leaving your cuticle intact and avoiding nail wraps. And if you have your nails done at salon, make sure they sterilize their instruments and use a clean basin and new liquids each time.
- Cut down on ingrown nails, it’s best to clip right after bath or shower when nails are softer.
- If your nail is prone to getting brittle, try trimming them a little shorter and apply a moisturizer each time you wash your hands.
- Make sure your diet contain the right amount of vitamin and minerals.
- Toenail infections can result from athlete’s foot. To prevent these infections, keep your feet dry as possible because fungi grow best where it’s damp.
Symptoms: Nutritional deficiencies produce the following problems.
- A lack of vitamin A and calcium makes nail dry and brittle.
- A lack of B-complex vitamin causes weakness and cracking.
- A deficiency of Vitamin B12 causes dry, dark nails and causes them to be excessively rounded and curved.
- A deficiency of proteins is evidenced by white stripes on nails.
- A deficiency of iron produces a spoon shaped nails with raised tip.
- Fungus on nails is common ailments but hard to eliminate. One of the reasons why it is difficult to eliminate is due to the difficulty of fungicides to penetrate to the root, which is under the nail. Aloe vera extract and aloe vera gelatin , alone or combined with other elements like salicylic acid when applied to the affected areas after bathing helps in the treatment of fungus on nails. It is recommended also to eat yogurt everyday. The lacto bacillus or acidophilus destroys the fungus “candida albicans” which maybe causing this conditions.
- Intake of garlic and bee propolis supplement can help cure and prevent fungal and bacterial infection. Garlic and bee propolis are both very strong natural antibiotic.
Helpful Foods / Nutrients: Many of the nail problems disappear when nutritional deficiencies and underlying condition is corrected.
- In order to make keratin, the body needs high-quality protein from lean meat, poultry, fish, seafood, and other animal products; a combination of grain products and legumes will also supply complete protein.
- Omega 3 and 6 oils contain essential fatty acid to strengthen nails.
- Acidophilus fights fungal infections that affect nails.
- Garlic improves blood flow to the nail beds.
- Ginkgo biloba improves circulation, thereby increasing the amount of nutrients the nails receive.
- Vitamin A is essential for nail growth. A lack of Vitamin A in the body can cause, dry brittle nails that tend to flake and break off.
- Vitamin C boosts overall health, and deficiency is associated with deformed nails.
- Biotin strengthens keratin, the protein from which nails are formed.
- Vitamin B2 promotes healthy nails.
Nail condition as indicator of diseases: Even though nails are mostly dead tissue they can also be an important indicator of a person’s state of health; this is the reason a doctor carefully examines them for clues to many diseases.
- Soft spoon-shaped nails that curve upward, for example, point to iron-deficiency Anemia.
- Rounded, club-shaped nails indicate impaired circulation or a serious lung disorder.
- A discolored nails may be due to a fungal infection.
- Black, splinter like bits under the nails may indicate infectious endocarditis, a serious heart infection, other cardiovascular or heart disease, or a bleeding disorder.
- Brittle, soft, shiny nails without a moon may indicate an overactive thyroid known as hyperthyroidism.
- Bumps on nail indicate that a person may have rheumatoid arthritis.
- Deep blue nail beds indicate possible pulmonary health problem such as asthma or emphysema.
- Flat nails can indicate person has Raynaud's disease.
- Nails that break easy (chip, peel, crack) indicate a poor nutrition, insufficient hydrochloric acid, and protein in the diet.
- Red skin around the cuticles can be indicate poor metabolism of essential fatty acids or may indicate the person has Lupus.
- Thick nails indicate that the person's cardiovascular system is weakening and the blood is not circulating well. It may also indicate thyroid disease.
- Yellow nails indicate internal health problems such as: lymphatic system, respiratory disorders, diabetes, and liver disease.