Although vitamin deficiencies are rarely the cause of nail fungus, a diet rich in certain foods can help improve nail health and prevent microscopic fungus from invading. Use simple prevention strategies in conjunction with dietary interventions. Avoid walking barefoot because nail fungus is contagious, and keep your feet clean and dry to prevent bacterial growth. Absorbent foot powders are another tool to add to your arsenal of defenses.
Signs of Nail Fungus
Nail fungus accounts for about half of all nail disorders, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Fungus usually affects the toenails because the warm, moist environment inside your shoes is conducive to fungal growth. If your nails become yellow, brittle and thick, you likely have a fungal infection.
Because trauma or a break in your nail allow fungus to enter, a healthy diet that nourishes and strengthens nails can be crucial to preventing fungal infections. Foods that help increase nail health include milk yogurt and cheese, which are high in calcium. When choosing fruits and vegetables, look for dark colored selections, which often contain the most antioxidants. Red grapefruit, dark leafy greens and tomatoes are good sources of an array of vitamins. The Harvard School of Public Health recommends nine servings daily of vitamin-rich fruits and vegetables, but note that potatoes don't count.
If a busy lifestyle keeps you from consuming a balanced diet, you might consider using vitamin supplements to fill in nutritional gaps and protect against nail fungus. Although supplements are not shown to directly treat nail fungus, they can help strengthen brittle nails, and keep you healthy in the face of infections such as nail fungus. Antioxidant vitamins, such as vitamin C, help counteract free radical damage, or damaging molecules that breakdown healthy cells and contribute to illness. Biotin, a vitamin found in trace amounts in various foods, is sometimes taken as a supplement for nail health, according to MedlinePlus.
Inspect your nails regularly because changes in the nail often signal health problems. If you maintain a balanced diet and consume an array of vitamins daily and still notice nail discoloration and thickening, it may be time to see your doctor. In some cases, a stubborn case of nail fungus is the cause and prescription medications are necessary. In others cases, kidney disease, heart and lung conditions, diabetes or anemia are a factor.