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Toenails, like all the other nails of the body, are made up of a tough protein called keratin and apart from adding to the aesthetics of an individual, healthy toenails also indicate the overall health of the person. Abnormalities of toenails include changes in the color, shape, textures or thickness and may occur due to injury, infections and underlying conditions such as kidney disease, liver disease and thyroidism. Certain vitamins and natural supplements may help maintain healthy nails.
Biotin or vitamin B7 is a component of the B complex vitamins and plays an important role in various metabolic processes of the body. The supplements are administered orally and are well tolerated when used at recommended dosages. A balanced diet rich in foods such as milk, liver, eggs, legumes and nuts can also help overcome biotin deficiency and promote healthy nails.
Does Fish Oil Help Your Nails?
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble antioxidant found in foods such as wheat germ, corn, olives and nuts. It can neutralize free radicals that are formed as a result of various metabolic processes in the body.
Apart from dietary sources, vitamin E can also be obtained from synthetic supplements that can be purchased over-the-counter. However, it's important to talk to a doctor before taking these supplements as chronic overuse can increase the chances of death.
- Vitamin E is a fat-soluble antioxidant found in foods such as wheat germ, corn, olives and nuts.
- However, it's important to talk to a doctor before taking these supplements as chronic overuse can increase the chances of death.
Reduced intake of iron can lead to iron-deficiency anemia, which leads to a decrease in the number of red blood cells in the body 2. Deficiency of iron can also affect the cells that help form the nails, thereby leading to brittle nails 2. Iron supplements and iron-rich foods such as:
- raisins are recommended
- along with vitamin C which enhances the ability of the digestive system to absorb iron
Brittle and weak toenails can also occur due to calcium deficiency and may be avoided by eating a diet rich in calcium such as dark, green vegetables, dairy products and tuna. Calcium supplements can also be taken along with vitamin D supplements to maintain optimum levels of calcium in the blood.
Does Fish Oil Help Your Nails?
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- MedlinePlus: Biotin
- MedlinePlus: Iron Deficiency Anemia
- Linus Pauling Institute: Vitamin D
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Office of Dietary Supplements/National Institutes of Health. Iron - Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. Updated July 9, 2019.
- Miller JL. Iron deficiency anemia: a common and curable disease. Cold Spring Harb Perspect Med. 2013;3(7). doi:10.1101/cshperspect.a011866
- Okan M, Koch T, Tran M, et al. Iron Supplementation, Response in Iron-Deficiency Anemia: Analysis of Five Trials. Amer J Med. 2017;130(8):991.e1-991.e8. doi:10.1016/j.amjmed.2017.03.045
- Abbaspour N, Hurrell R, Kelishadi R. Review on iron and its importance for human health. J Res Med Sci. 2014;19(2):164-74.
- Manoguerra AS, Erdman AR, Booze LL, et al. Iron ingestion: an evidence-based consensus guideline for out-of-hospital management. Clin Toxicol (Phila). 2005;43(6):553-70.
- Lynch SR, Cook JD. Interaction of vitamin C and iron. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 1980;355:32-44. doi:10.1111/j.1749-6632.1980.tb21325.x
- Camaschella, C. Iron deficiency. Blood. 2019;133:30-9. doi:10.1182/blood-2018-05-815944.
- Office of Dietary Supplements/National Institutes of Health. Iron - Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. Bethesda, Maryland; updated December 7, 2018.
- Okan, M.; Koch, T.; Tran, M. et al. Iron Supplementation, Response in Iron-Deficiency Anemia: Analysis of Five Trials. Amer J Med. 2017;130(8):991.e1-991.e8. doi:10.1016/j.amjmed.2017.03.045.
A freelance writer and blogger since 2007, Shamala Pulugurtha's work has appeared in magazines such as the "Guide to Health and Healing" and prominent websites like Brain Blogger and NAMI California. Pulugurtha has a postgraduate degree in medical microbiology from Manipal Academy of Higher Education, India and has completed course work in psychology and health education.