Your nails are an important indicator of your overall health. Weak nails are usually a sign that your body is lacking certain nutrients, and brittle, dry nails in particular are often caused by a deficiency of calcium in the diet. If you have brittle nails, you’ll experience splitting and cracking up the nail, and will usually see a slower rate of growth.
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Your nails are made from hardened keratin, which is the protein that also makes up your hair strands, but they also contain calcium deposits. Calcium is a key mineral when it comes to maintaining the hardness and structure of nails, as well as keeping the tissues of the nail bed healthy. Ensuring you are getting enough calcium will keep your nails strong and less prone to dryness. Good sources of calcium include milk, cheese, green leafy vegetables, nuts, soya beans and tofu.
Increasing your calcium intake alone is unlikely to fix the problem of brittle nails, however. You need to ensure you’re also getting sufficient vitamin D, as this helps the absorption of calcium from the foods you eat. It’s recommended to take a vitamin D supplement as dietary sources are rare. Government guidelines recommend 10mg daily unless you spend a lot of time in the sun.1
Unsurprisingly, as they are made from the protein keratin, you’ll also need lots of protein to maintain strong nails, as well as healthy fats such as omega-3’s found in flaxseed, walnuts and eggs.
If you have white spots on your nail beds, don’t worry. These are completely normal and contrary to popular belief, aren’t actually a sign of calcium deficiency.
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Advice is for information only and should not replace medical care. Please consult a doctor or healthcare professional before trying any remedies.
- [Online] https://www.nhs.uk/news/food-and-diet/the-new-guidelines-on-vitamin-d-what-you-need-to-know/.