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Although they may not seem useful outside of making a beauty statement, fingernails are an important indicator of health. Fingernails require vitamins and nutrients just like every organ in the body. Certain nail problems can signal an illness or a need for vitamins or minerals. A well-balanced diet with essential vitamins can help promote long and strong fingernails.
Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that can help prevent fingernails from becoming brittle and cracking. Good sources of vitamin A include carrots, sweet potatoes and spinach. According to the Institute of Medicine's Food and Nutrition Board, the recommended amount of vitamin for adults is 700 mcg for females and 900 mcg for males 3. More than 3,000 mcg of vitamin A per day can be dangerous, as stated in Harvard Health Publications 2.
What to Eat for Healthy Toenails
According to the Mayo Clinic website, biotin may help increase nail thickness. Thicker nails are tougher and lead to less breakage, allowing them to grow longer. Biotin is a B vitamin found in foods such as eggs, fish and soybeans. It can also be found in supplement form. The daily amount recommended by the Institute of Medicine's Food and Nutrition Board is 30 mcg 3.
- According to the Mayo Clinic website, biotin may help increase nail thickness.
- Biotin is a B vitamin found in foods such as eggs, fish and soybeans.
Vitamin C helps the body make collagen, a structural element that helps form the nose, ears, hair and nails. Oranges, tomatoes, peppers and strawberries are rich in vitamin C. The Institute of Medicine's Food and Nutrition Board recommends 90 mg of vitamin C per day for men and 75 mg per day for women 3.
Vitamin C & Hair Loss
According to Harvard Health Publications, vitamin D helps regulate calcium and phosphorus, two minerals that are important to bone, hair and fingernail health 2. Though vitamin D is found in fortified milk and cereals, the main source of vitamin D is sunlight. People who live in northern climates might not get enough sunshine and may require supplements.
What to Eat for Healthy Toenails
Vitamin C & Hair Loss
What Are the Benefits of Vitamin B-1 or Thiamine?
Does Fish Oil Help Your Nails?
What Vitamins Do I Need to Stop My Fingernails From Splitting?
What Vitamins & Minerals Do Eyebrow Hairs Need to Grow?
Will Certain Vitamins Make Your Eyelashes Grow?
Supplements for Nail Fungus
Will Vitamin B Complex Harden Fingernails?
Natural Way to Grow Eyebrow Hair
- MayoClinic.com: Nails: How to Keep Your Fingernails Healthy and Strong
- Harvard Health Publications: Listing of Vitamins
- Institute of Medicine: Food and Nutrition Board: Dietary Reference Intakes
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid)
- Holick MF, Gordon CM. Patient Guide to Vitamin D Deficiency. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. 2011;96(7):1-2. doi:10.1210/jcem.96.7.zeg33a
- Sunyecz JA. The use of calcium and vitamin D in the management of osteoporosis. Ther Clin Risk Manag. 2008;4(4):827-836. doi:10.2147/tcrm.s3552
- Giovannucci E, Liu Y, Hollis BW, Rimm EB. 25-hydroxyvitamin D and risk of myocardial infarction in men: a prospective study. Arch Intern Med. 2008;168(11):1174-1180. doi:10.1001/archinte.168.11.1174
- Gorham ED, Garland CF, Garland FC, et al. Optimal vitamin D status for colorectal cancer prevention: a quantitative meta analysis. Am J Prev Med. 2007;32(3):210-216. doi:10.1016/j.amepre.2006.11.004
- Lappe JM, Travers-Gustafson D, Davies KM, Recker RR, Heaney RP. Vitamin D and calcium supplementation reduces cancer risk: results of a randomized trial. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2007;85(6):1586-1591. doi:10.1093/ajcn/85.6.1586
- Prentice RL, Pettinger MB, Jackson RD, et al. Health risks and benefits from calcium and vitamin D supplementation: Women’s Health Initiative clinical trial and cohort study. Osteoporos Int. 2013;24(2):567-580. doi:10.1007/s00198-012-2224-2
- Urashima M, Segawa T, Okazaki M, Kurihara M, Wada Y, Ida H. Randomized trial of vitamin D supplementation to prevent seasonal influenza A in schoolchildren. Am J Clin Nutr. 2010;91(5):1255-1260. doi:10.3945/ajcn.2009.29094
- Salehpour A, Hosseinpanah F, Shidfar F, et al. A 12-week double-blind randomized clinical trial of vitamin D₃ supplementation on body fat mass in healthy overweight and obese women. Nutr J. 2012;11:78. doi:10.1186/1475-2891-11-78
- Carrillo AE, Flynn MG, Pinkston C, et al. Impact of vitamin D supplementation during a resistance training intervention on body composition, muscle function, and glucose tolerance in overweight and obese adults. Clin Nutr. 2013;32(3):375-381. doi:10.1016/j.clnu.2012.08.014
- Marcinowska-Suchowierska E, Kupisz-Urbańska M, Łukaszkiewicz J, Płudowski P, Jones G. Vitamin D Toxicity-A Clinical Perspective. Front Endocrinol. 2018;9:550. doi:10.3389/fendo.2018.00550
- Ross AC, Manson JE, Abrams SA, et al. The 2011 report on dietary reference intakes for calcium and vitamin D from the Institute of Medicine: what clinicians need to know. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2011;96(1):53-58. doi:10.1210/jc.2010-2704
- Bouillon R, Van Schoor NM, Gielen E, et al. Optimal vitamin D status: a critical analysis on the basis of evidence-based medicine. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2013;98(8):E1283-E1304. doi:10.1210/jc.2013-1195
- American Academy of Dermatology. Position Statement of Vitamin D. 2010.
- Taksler GB, Cutler DM, Giovannucci E, Keating NL. Vitamin D deficiency in minority populations. Public Health Nutr. 2015;18(3):379-391. doi:10.1017/S1368980014000457
- Holick MF, Binkley NC, Bischoff-Ferrari HA, et al. Evaluation, treatment, and prevention of vitamin D deficiency: an Endocrine Society clinical practice guideline. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2011;96(7):1911-1930. doi:10.1210/jc.2011-0385
- Cannell JJ, Vieth R, Umhau JC, et al. Epidemic Influenza and Vitamin D. Epidemiol Infect. 2006; 134:1129-40.
- Carrillo AE1, Flynn MG, Pinkston C, Markofski MM, Jiang Y, Donkin SS, Teegarden D. Impact of Vitamin D Supplementation During a Resistance Training Intervention on Body Composition, Muscle Function, and Glucose Tolerance in Overweight and Obese Adults. Clin Nutr. 2013 Jun;32(3):375-81. doi: 10.1016/j.clnu.2012.08.014. Epub 2012 Aug 31.
- Ginde AA, Mansbach JM, Camargo CA, Jr. Association Between Serum 25-Hydroxyvitamin D Level and Upper Respiratory Tract Infection in the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Arch Intern Med. 2009; 169:384-90.
- Giovannucci E, Liu Y, Hollis BW, Rimm EB. 25-hydroxyvitamin D and Risk of Myocardial Infarction in Men: a Prospective Study. Arch Intern Med. 2008; 168:1174-80.
- Gorham ED, Garland CF, Garland FC, Grant WB, Mohr SB, Lipkin M, Newmark HL, Giovannucci E, Wei M, Holick MF. Optimal Vitamin D Status for Colorectal Cancer Prevention: a Quantitative Meta-analysis. Am J Prev Med. 2007 Mar;32(3):210-6.
- Heaney, Robert P. “The Vitamin D Requirement in Health and Disease.” The Journal of Steroid Biochemistry & Molecular Biology 97 (2005):13-9.
- Holick MF. Vitamin D. In: Shils M, Olson J, Shike M, Ross AC, ed. Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease, 9th ed. Baltimore: Williams and Wilkins, 1999.
- National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. Vitamin D: Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet. University of Ottawa Evidence-based Practice Center. Effectiveness and Safety of Vitamin D in Relation to Bone Health. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Aug 2007: 07-E013.
- Salehpour A1, Hosseinpanah F, Shidfar F, Vafa M, Razaghi M, Dehghani S, Hoshiarrad A, Gohari M. A 12-week Double-blind Randomized Clinical Trial of Vitamin D₃ Supplementation on Body Fat Mass in Healthy Overweight and Obese Women. Nutr J. 2012 Sep 22;11:78. doi: 10.1186/1475-2891-11-78.
- Urashima M, Segawa T, Okazaki M, Kurihara M, Wada Y, Ida H. Randomized Trial of Vitamin D Supplementation to Prevent Seasonal Influenza A in Schoolchildren. Am J Clin Nutr. 2010 91:1255-60. Epub 2010 Mar 10.
- Wilkins, Consuelo H. and Yvette I. Sheline, et al. “Vitamin D Deficiency Is Associated with Low Mood and Worse Cognitive Performance in Older Adults.” American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry 14 (2006): 1032-40.
Heather Neal, R.D., L.D.N., started writing professionally in 2010. She completed her dietetic internship at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, Maryland. Neal now writes the nutrition blog, The Health Hoot, and runs a prenatal nutrition practice while working on a Master of Science in sports nutrition at Northeastern University.