Foods That Promote Healthy Nails

  • Poor nail health can affect the texture, color, clarity, and overall appearance of nails.
  • A great way to boost nail health is by eating foods that contain nutrients like vitamin C, vitamin A, protein, biotin, folate, and much more.
  • Some examples of foods that boost nail health are eggs, grapefruit, salmon, chicken, strawberries, spinach, and almonds.

Eating healthy not only helps manage weight, but provides many incredible benefits that reach each and every part of our body, from our hair to our nails! Aside from the regular maintenance of cutting and polishing our nails, most people probably don’t pay much attention to them. But the condition of our nails can have a big impact on our daily life.

While not serious, weak and brittle nails will break and chip easily which can be a major annoyance. Poor nail health can also affect the texture, color, clarity, and overall appearance of nails. Thankfully, the best way to promote healthy nails is also the easiest! Start by eating these 14 foods on a regular basis…

Eggs

There’s a reason many people like to start their day with a serving of eggs. Not only are they delicious, they’re also super healthy. This staple breakfast food is packed with protein which not only helps keep us full, it also contributes to good nail growth.

Women’s Health talked to dermatologist Chris Adigun, MD, assistant professor of dermatology at New York University who points out that the nail plate (hard see-through portion) is actually made up of protein. In addition to their protein, eggs are rich in B vitamins which are components of biotin and have proven to boost nail growth.

Spinach

Dark leafy greens are among the healthiest foods to eat as they contain all kinds of vitamins and nutrients that promote overall health. Women’s Health talked to Dendy Engelman, MD, an assistant professor of dermatology at New York Medical Collage who says spinach contains vitamin E, iron, B vitamins, folate, and vitamin A. These all work together to promote nail strength and growth.

Spinach is one of the most touted and popular greens to eat. It’s also the easiest to incorporate into daily meals. You can use it as a base for a salad, add it to smoothies, toss it into sauces and stir frys. The list goes on!

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is super versatile as it comes in all different forms and uses. It’s used in beauty products for our skin and hair, but also as a popular ingredient while cooking. One of the reasons it’s touted as being a healthy food is because it’s considered a healthy fat that can enhance our body’s ability to absorb nutrients, says Women’s Health after talking to Engelman.

In addition to that, coconut also contains vitamins A, D, E, and K. All of these vitamins work together to strengthen our nails. Eat This, Not That! adds that many people apply coconut oil topically to their nails to soften the cuticles, prevent hangnails, and as a moisturizer for their hands.

Lentils

People who are vegan or vegetarian likely eat a lot of lentils because they are a good source of iron and protein. These two nutrients are essential for overall health, but also play a big role in keeping our nails strong and healthy. “Lentils and beans contain iron, which prevent anemia, a condition that wreaks havoc on your nails,” says Sarah Mirkin, RD, CPT to Martha Stewart.com. “They are also high in protein, which is required for keratin formation.”

Lentils are also a good source of biotin which can help promote nail growth for a longer, thicker manicure, adds the source. Eat This, Not That! reinstates lentils benefits for our nails by citing a German study which found 91-percent of its subjects who were given a daily oral dose of 2.5-miligrams of biotin had firmer and harder nails after 5 and a half months.

Brazil Nuts

As long as we are careful with the amount of nuts we eat, they can provide us with all kinds of healthy benefits! Brazil nuts in particular are great for our nails because according to Women’s Health, they’re packed full of collagen-building selenium, zinc, vitamin B, and vitamin E.

Keep a stash of brazil nuts nearby and grab a small handful each day to build up strength in your nails. The source notes that it takes about 6-months to re-grow an entire nail so keep in mind that it will take some time to see the benefits. In fact, Adigun notes there might not be any visible benefits for at least 3-months.

Strawberries

Strawberries not only taste delicious but it also provides some serious benefits to our nails. According to dietitian Tanya Zuckerbrot, MS, RD, and founder of the F-Factor Diet who talked to Eat This, Not That!, strawberries contain just as much if not more vitamin C than an orange! She suggests eating eight or more strawberries in order to reap more benefits than an orange.

You might be wondering what vitamin C has to do with healthy nails. Well, the same source notes that vitamin C helps our body produce collagen which is what keeps our nails strong and resilient against breaks. Thus, eating strawberries are a great way to help strengthen our nails!

Grapefruit

Another delicious fruit to start eating more of is grapefruit. It’s packed full of vitamins, including vitamin A and C, plus it has fiber and antioxidants. Not only that, but Mirkin tells MarthaStewart.com that grapefruit is high in beta carotene, lycopene, and flavanoids, “all of which are antioxidants that can protect your nails from free radical damage.”

A nice juicy grapefruit is also high in water content which means it provides good hydration. If you struggle with any ailments like fungus, try grapefruit seed extract. “Grapefruit seed extract has potent anti-fungal qualities, making it an effective natural therapy for nail fungus and athlete’s foot,” says Mirkin to the source.

Whole Grains

Whole grains contain silica which is the natural form of silicon. Silica is a trace mineral that helps our body properly utilize calcium and is the predominant mineral in the make up of our nails which is why it’s so good for them, explains Eat This, Not That!

The source also cites research from Brazil which found that people with soft and brittle nails have a systemic deficiency of silicon. You can boost silica intake by eating more whole grains, such as wheat, barley, oats, and millet.

Flaxseed

Flaxseeds contain essential fatty acids (EFAs) which contribute to overall health by aiding the proper structure and function of every cell in the body. People who struggle with dry, brittle nails should really consider adding flaxseed to their diet because EFAs can provide moisture to the nail bed which increases the suppleness of thin, brittle nails, says Eat This, Not That!

In addition to its EFA content, flaxseed is high in magnesium. “Flaxseed is also high in magnesium, which many people don’t get enough of,” says Mirkin to MarthaStewart.com. “Magnesium is essential for maintaining nail health and preventing the formation of ridges on the nail bed.”

Salmon

A fatty fish like salmon is full of healthy omega-3 fatty acids. According to Healthline, omega-3 fatty acids help lubricate and moisturize our nails which gives them that shiny appearance we all desire. They may also “reduce inflammation in your nail bed, which nourishes and promotes the health of cells that give rise to your nail plate,” writes the source. Someone who’s diet lacks omega-3 fatty acids may suffer from dry and brittle nails.

It also contains lots of protein and zinc which help our body absorb the protein we consume, explains Women’s Health. “It also contains the nutrients selenium and copper, which aid in the production of the collagen that can boost nail growth,” writes Women’s Health after talking to Engelman.

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Water and High Water Content Foods

We should all be drinking plenty of water throughout the day as it’s not only essential for our wellbeing, but it provides lots of benefits to our skin, hair, and nails. Drinking water keeps our nails and cuticles hydrated which prevents them from getting dry and brittle. According to Gracie J, a nail stylist and the founder of The Editorial Nail who talked to MarthaStewart.com, “water aids in the delivery of nutrients and oxygen to the cells.”

You can boost water intake by eating foods with a high water content, like watermelon. This fruit contains about 92-percent water per volume, notes Eat This, Not That! Cucumbers and celery are two other food sources with high water content.

Chicken

Another protein packed food is chicken. It contains healthy vitamins and nutrients like vitamin B and protein which help strengthen our nails, according to Women’s Health. It also contains zinc. The three of these together creates a trifecta for nail growth, explains Engelman to the source.

Since our nails are mostly made up of translucent keratin protein, Eat This, Not That! adds that eating a diet rich in this muscle-building nutrient is key. The best source of this is a lean protein like chicken. You could also try turkey, or the vegetarian option, tempeh.

Red Bell Peppers

Yet another food that is high in collagen are red bell peppers. Collagen helps promote long and strong nails which is why it’s best to try and add this vegetable into your diet, either by eating them on their own or incorporating them into meals. You can eat them raw with some hummus (a protein packed snack), or add them to a veggie stir fry.

On top of its collagen contents, a red pepper contains 190-percent of our recommended daily intake of vitamin C (an essential nutrient for producing collagen) and lots of antioxidants that prevent free radicals from damaging and oxidizing our nails, says Eat This, Not That!

Almonds

Biotin is one of the best nutrients for strong, healthy nails. It’s a B-complex vitamin that promotes both healthy hair and nail growth, says Medical News Today. There’s also evidence that it can strengthen brittle nails and prevent them from breaking. According to the same source, biotin supplements won’t do the trick, it’s best to get this nutrient from a well-balanced diet. For example, foods containing biotin like almonds!

In addition to being packed with protein and fiber, almonds contain 49-percent of the recommended daily amount of biotin. They also contain vitamin E which will provide an added boost to your hair and scalp.

Katherine George

Katherine George

Katherine is the Senior Managing Editor of ActiveBeat and Childhood. She is constantly striving to live a more active and healthy life, from eating healthy, exercising, and just spending more time outdoors. She enjoys cooking (with wine), walking her dog, reading, and recently joined a yoga studio!

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