Whilst nail aesthetics have become an element of a beauty ritual for many, their functional role in health and wellbeing is often forgotten about. Nails protect the skin on your toes and fingers, as well as helping you perform basic activities such as scratching a surface or holding an item more tightly.
But did you know, nails are an indicator of health in the body? Any unusual characteristics of certain parts of the nail may mean something’s going on inside the body. These unusual characteristics show up as nail discoloration, unevenness, and brittleness (1). Other factors such as extreme weather can also cause nails to be brittle and split (2).
To help maintain nail health, we need to be conscious of how we can take care of them from the inside out. Aside from clipping nails properly, moisturising, and practicing proper hygiene (1), it’s also good to support nail health from the inside. Nutrients provide the body with what it needs to minimise deficiencies and boost bodily functions to prevent illnesses and infections. Here are some tips on how to make a vitamin plan for your nails.
Make an assessment of your body
The first step to maintaining nail health is to conduct your own assessment. Do you see any unusual growth, colour, or structure in your nails (3)? Do they crack or chip more often, or are they sensitive to touch in certain parts? Answering these questions may point out what your body is experiencing.
If these symptoms are present, speak to your healthcare professional to help understand their causes and impacts, as well as work out next steps. This is particularly important if symptoms persist, and you require additional tests to confirm your condition.
Get to know some of the nutrients for nail health
After the assessment, it’s good to know what possible actions you can do to support healthy nails. Adding exercise and a proper diet are some of the basic steps which can kickstart your healthy lifestyle. For your vitamin plan, it’s about choosing the nutrients that help support nail health.
Some of the sources of vitamins and minerals that help nail health are iron, cranberry, collagen, and biotin. Let's look at the science behind these nutrients to understand why they’re good for your nails:
Iron is an essential mineral for various functions like energy production, oxygen transport, and others (4). It supports nail health by playing a role in collagen formation.
Iron deficiency results in spoon nails, which occur when the nails arch inwards and become brittle (5). To maintain nail health, at least 8 mg/day of iron is recommended for daily intake (6). Foods like lean meat and seafood, nuts, beans, and fortified food have high amounts of iron which you can add to your diet.
*Iron should only be taken if prescribed by your doctor.
Cranberries contain silicic acid which supports nail health. A study showed that continuous intake improved brittle nails and strengthened them (7). Another study saw that silicic acid also helps in the maintenance of the nail's connective to keep it healthy (8).
Vitamin C which is also present in cranberries enables nail health by supporting collagen formation which is essential for nail formation to keep it strong (9). Vitamin C deficiency also shows signs of nail brittleness (10).
Collagen is one of the key components of nails. Patients who have taken collagen supplements have seen increased nail growth, fewer broken nails, and improved brittle nail conditions (12). Meats with connective tissue in them like brisket and chuck steak are rich in collagen, as well as bone broth (13). It can be sourced from supplements or increased intake of collagen production boosting food like meat, dairy, nuts, and seeds (13).
Lastly, biotin or vitamin B7 is one of the recommended nutrients for brittle nails (14). Multiple studies have proven that patients improved their brittle nails through the use of biotin supplements (15, 16). Aside from its help with nail health, it’s present in fatty acid, glucose, and amino acid metabolism and cell signaling and its deficiency can cause nail brittleness (17). Foods like animal organs, eggs, seeds, and nuts are good sources of biotin and 30 micrograms/day of it is recommended (18).
Put together your own vitamin plan
The next step to maintain and support your nail health is to find the best way to get the vitamins that you need. It is always best to get the vitamins that you need from your diet, but in cases where you can’t get all the nutrients you need from diet, supplements can help support your intake.
Eating healthy and choosing the right supplements for your vitamin plan can help you improve your nail health.
Vitable offers custom supplements to fit your needs and lifestyle. Choose from a selection of supplements to support not only nail health but also areas of health. Your daily vitamin packs contain only the vitamins that you need that come with vitamin delivery services to anywhere in Australia.
Find out more about other areas that the above supplements can help you with:
*Always read the label. Follow the directions for use. If symptoms persist, talk to your health professional. Vitamin and/or mineral supplements should not replace a balanced diet.
- "Nails - fingernail and toenail problems". Better Health Channel. Published on https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/nails-fingernail-and-toenail-problems. Accessed Oct. 27, 2021
- Farran, L., Ennos, A., and Eichhorn, S. "The effect of humidity on the fracture properties of human fingernails". The Journal of experimental biology. Published Dec. 2008 on https://journals.biologists.com/jeb/article/211/23/3677/17955/The-effect-of-humidity-on-the-fracture-properties. Accessed Oct. 27, 2021
- Singal, A., and Arora, R. "Nail as a window of systemic diseases". Indian dermatology online journal. Published Apr. 2015 on https://www.idoj.in/article.asp?issn=2229-5178;year=2015;volume=6;issue=2;spage=67;epage=74;aulast=Singal. Accessed Oct. 27, 2021
- “Iron”, National Institute of Health: Office of Dietary Supplements. Published on https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Iron-HealthProfessional/. Accessed Oct. 27, 2021
- Higdon, J., Drake, V., Delage, B., and Wessling-Resnick, M. “Iron”. Oregon State University: Linus Pauling Institute. Published May. 2016 on https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/minerals/iron. Accessed Oct. 27, 2021
- "Iron". Australian National Health and Medical Research Council: Nutrient Reference Values. Published Sep. 22, 2017 on https://www.nrv.gov.au/nutrients/iron. Accessed Oct. 27, 2021
- Lassus A. "Colloidal silicic acid for oral and topical treatment of aged skin, fragile hair and brittle nails in females". The Journal of international medical research. Published Aug. 1993 on https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/030006059302100406. Accessed Oct. 27, 2021
- Barel, A., Calomme, M., Timchenko, A., De Paepe, K., Demeester, N., Rogiers, V., Clarys, P., and Vanden Berghe, D. "Effect of oral intake of choline-stabilized orthosilicic acid on skin, nails and hair in women with photodamaged skin". Archives of dermatological research. Published Oct. 26, 2005 on https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00403-005-0584-6. Accessed Oct. 27, 2021
- Pullar, J., Carr, A., and Vissers, M. "The Roles of Vitamin C in Skin Health". Nutrients. Published Aug. 12, 2017 on https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/9/8/866. Accessed Oct. 27, 2021
- Maxfield, L., Crane, J. "Vitamin C Deficiency". StatPearls. Published Jan. 2021 on https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK493187/. Accessed Oct. 27, 2021
- "Vitamin C". Australian National Health and Medical Research Council: Nutrient Reference Values. Published Sep. 22, 2017 on https://www.nrv.gov.au/nutrients/vitamin-c. Accessed Oct. 27, 2021
- Hexsel, D., Zague, V., Schunck, M., Siega, C., Camozzato, F., and Oesser, S. "Oral supplementation with specific bioactive collagen peptides improves nail growth and reduces symptoms of brittle nails". Journal of cosmetic dermatology. Publishe Dec. 2017 on https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jocd.12393. Accessed Oct. 27, 2021
- "Collagen". Harvard T.H Chan School of Public Health: The Nutritional Source. Published on https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/collagen/. Accessed Oct. 27, 2021
- "Fingernails: Do's and don'ts for healthy nails". Mayo Clinic: Adult Health. Published Oct. 16, 2021 on https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/nails/art-20044954. Accessed Oct. 27, 2021
- Hochman, L., Scher, R., and Meyerson, M. "Brittle nails: response to daily biotin supplementation". Cutis. Published Apr. 1993 on https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8477615/. Accessed Oct. 27, 2021
- Colombo, V., Gerber, F., Bronhofer, M., and Floersheim, G. "Treatment of brittle fingernails and onychoschizia with biotin: scanning electron microscopy". Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. Published Dec. 1990 on https://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/019096229070345I. Accessed Oct. 27, 2021
- “Biotin”, National Institute of Health: Office of Dietary Supplements. Published on https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Biotin-HealthProfessional/. Accessed Oct. 27, 2021
- "Biotin". Australian National Health and Medical Research Council: Nutrient Reference Values. Published Sep. 22, 2017 on https://www.nrv.gov.au/nutrients/biotin. Accessed Oct. 27, 2021