What nutrient deficiency does to your nails

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The fingernails are one of the most ignored areas in the body. Most people only remember theirs when they want to paint it. Your fingernails are more than just for pretty nail art.
Studies show that the nails are the windows to your health. When something is wrong with your body, it is also evident in your nails. For instance, when there is a nutrient deficiency, it is visible in your nail colour, texture, shape and growth rate.
Most of the changes you notice in your nails and skin occur when there is a vitamin or nutrient deficiency. This is why you should not ignore any of these signs.
Here are some of the symptoms that you may notice in nails and what they are trying to tell you about your health

Nail Conditions and Symptoms to watch out for

Pallor Of Nail Bed

Symptoms:
Pale fingernails (excessive discoloration)
Causes:
Anemia is a possible cause of pallor of the nail bed. This condition is associated with low levels of iron in your body.

How To Fix It:

The best way to fix this nail condition is by eating healthy.
A diet change is the best way to deal with anemia that causes pallor of nail beds. Design a diet plan to combat anemia and consume these foods:
• Green leafy veggies (kale, spinach, Swiss chard)
• Meat and poultry
• Seafood (fresh salmon, halibut, tuna, and sardines)
• Calcium-rich foods, such as broccoli, tofu, cheese, kefir, and yogurt
• Beans
• Nuts and seeds
Other Treatment options
You can go to your doctor to conduct a Complete Blood Count (CBC) test and prescribe the required iron supplements.

Melanonychia

Symptoms:
Brown or black lines on your nails.
It looks like a vertical strip that starts at the bottom of your nails and continues to the top.
It may occur in one or multiple nails.
Causes:
The primary causes of melanonychia are malnutrition and lack of essential proteins and energy in your body. The melanocytes deposit melanin on the nail bed, and that is why you see those longitudinal strips on your nails.
Aside from malnutrition and absence of essential proteins in the body, several other factors can activate melanocytes. Factors like
• Trauma and injury
• Infection
• Psoriasis
• Hyperthyroidism
• Photosensitivity
• Tobacco
• Henna
• Exposure to X-ray
• Excess iron in the body

How To Fix It:

With Food
If your condition is caused due to malnutrition, eating healthy is the only way to reduce the pigmentation on your nails. You should eat foods like:
• Red meat (but in limited quantities)
• Eggs
• Cheese and milk
• Fresh vegetables (especially leafy greens)
• Seasonal fruits
• Tofu
• Nuts and seeds
• Seafood
• Whole grains

Other Treatment Options:

Treatment options for this condition depend on its cause. For instance, if the cause is infection, then the doctor is likely to give you antifungal and antibiotics medicines.

Hapalonychia (Soft Nails)

Symptoms:
Longitudinal furrows or ridges running right from the tips of your nails to the cuticles.
Causes:
• Aging (this is very common in older adults due to low cell turnover)
• Vitamin deficiency (especially B vitamins that promote cell growth)
• Injury or trauma to the nail

How to fix it:

With Food
A balanced diet rich in all essential vitamins and nutrients is key to eliminate vertical ridging. This is a fairly common issue and can be easily treated. Have a balanced diet that includes:
• Vegetables
• Whole grains
• Dairy products
• Fish and seafood
• Meat and poultry products

Other Treatment Options

Your doctor will give you nutrient supplements that can make up for all the nutrients your body lacks.
Aside from this treatment, self care is also very important to avoid injuries to your nails.

Vertical Ridging Of Nails

Symptoms:
Longitudinal furrows or ridges running right from the tips of your nails to the cuticles.
Causes:
Aging (this is very common in older adults due to low cell turnover)
Vitamin deficiency (especially B vitamins that promote cell growth)
Injury or trauma to the nail

How To Fix It

With Food
A balanced diet rich in all essential vitamins and nutrients is key to eliminate vertical ridging. This is a fairly common issue and can be easily treated. Have a balanced diet that includes:
• Vegetables
• Whole grains
• Dairy products
• Fish and seafood
• Meat and poultry products

Other Treatment Options

The doctor may give you nutrient supplements to make up for the nutrient deficiency. Apart from that, self-care is also important to avoid any unnecessary injury to the nails.

Koilonychia Or Spoon Nails

Symptoms:
The nails are very slim and have a spoon-like shape.
The outer edges of the nails turn up and come out of the nail beds.
The nails may crack.
The shape of the nail becomes such that it can hold a drop of water.
Causes:
One of the most common causes of koilonychia is iron deficiency or anemia. When there is an absence of iron in your body, it makes your nails brittle. If Koilonychia is caused by anaemia, you will notice other symptoms like
• Fatigue
• Weakness
• Pale skin
• Shortness of breath
There are other factors that can cause this condition. Factors like:
Your body’s inability to absorb nutrients
External trauma to the nail
Too much exposure to detergents and petroleum solvents
Radiation therapy or chemotherapy
Hereditary and environmental factors can also cause this condition

How To Fix It:

With Food
If anemia or iron deficiency causes your condition, consuming food items rich in iron is a way to combat it.
Foods that can help you overcome Koilonychia include:
• Pork
• Poultry
• Beans
• Red meat
• Peas
• Dark green leafy veggies
• Dry fruits such as apricots and raisins

Other Treatment Options

Compared to vegetables and other sources, your body can easily absorb iron from poultry and meat. However, if you are a vegan, the doctor may prescribe iron supplements, along with vitamin B12 supplements.
Now that you have learned how nutrient deficiencies can affect your nails, let’s look at certain nail care do’s and don’ts

Nail Care – Dos And Don’ts

Nail care Dos

1. Make sure you clean your fingernails regularly and keep them dry. This inhibits bacterial growth under the nails
2. When using harsh chemicals and detergents while doing dishes, make sure you use rubber gloves. Reducing contact with these chemicals and water can prevent split fingernails.
3. Keep your nails trimmed and use a moisturizer to massage the cuticles and the fingers.
4. Use nail hardener if you notice your fingernails are too soft to prevent breakage.

Nail care Don’ts

• Resist the demon that pushes you to bite your nails and pick your cuticles. When you do this, you create an expressway for bacteria and fungi to enter and infect the nails.
• Avoid using nail polish remover and other nail chemicals excessively as they can make your nails brittle. Even when you get a remover, get one that doesn’t contain acetone
• Avoid filing your nails excessively. This can cause the nails to split.
• Never use your fingernails to poke into things or open anything
• Tearing or pulling any hangnails may cause an infection. Desist from doing that.

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