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Your overall health, energy level and even your appearance depend on your quality of nutrition. What you eat affects everything from your hair to your skin to your fingernail health. Take a look at your fingernails – are they smooth and perfectly rounded with a healthy pink glow? If you want healthy fingernails, you have to nourish yourself from the inside-out.
Your fingernails and toenails are made up of keratin, a hard, strong protein that’s also found in your hair and skin. Your nails are structurally made up of a number of components. First is the nail plate, which is the visible nail you see when you look at your fingers or toes. Underneath that is the nail bed, which is a layer of sensitive skin that is anchored to your nail plate. On all three sides of the nail are nail folds, which simply refer to the skin that surrounds and "folds" into your nails. Within the nail plate is the cuticle and lunula, the first of which is tissue that is connected to the nail fold and the nail plate, and the latter of which is the whitish, half-moon-shaped area found at the base of the nail. Your nails grow from under the cuticle in a place called the "matrix," averaging just 0.1 millimeters of growth a day.
If you have a vitamin, mineral or protein deficiency, it can show up as dry, cracked, brittle, and irregularly shaped nails. Here we have collected the most common nutritional deficiencies that can lead to nails with poorer quality:
A deficiency in biotin, will produce ridges along the nail bed.
Biotin, also known as vitamin B7, coenzyme R and vitamin H. It promotes healthy cell growth and aids in the metabolism of protein-building amino acids that are essential for nail growth. Biotin-rich foods and supplements may help strengthen your brittle fingernails.
Biotin is most concentrated in organ meat such as liver, but can also be found in egg yolk, dairy products, yeast, salmon, avocado, sweet potato, nuts, seeds and even cauliflower. You can buy a dietary supplement with biotin here.
Vitamin C is essential for the production of collagen, a protein that gives shape, strength and integrity to many tissues and is the building block of fingernails, skin, hair and teeth. A deficiency in vitamin C can result in brittle nails, as well as slowed nail growth.
Vitamin C is an essential nutrient and cannot be produced by your body.
While citrus fruits, such as oranges, strawberries and kiwi are thought to be the best sources of vitamin C, bell peppers, green vegetables and tomatoes are very high in this nutrient as well.
In fact, red bell peppers have more than twice the vitamin C of an orange. You can buy a dietary supplement with collagen and vitamin C here.
Nails, and also your skin and hair are made up of proteins like elastin, collagen, and keratin. When your body can't make them, you could have brittle or thinning hair, dry and flaky skin, and deep ridges on your fingernails. Keratin is a type of protein that forms the cells that make up the tissue in nails and other parts of your body. Keratin plays an important role in nail health. It protects nails from damage by making them strong and resilient. It also protects your nails from damage or stress.
Taking collagen and keratin as a dietary supplement may increase the strength of your nails by preventing brittleness. Additionally, it may help your hair and nails grow longer at the same time.
Interestingly, the keratin you see is actually dead. Nails are formed by dead cells, which your body sheds as new cells push up from underneath.
As proteins like keratin and collagen are not so common in the food many of us eat on daily base, the optimal thing to do is to incorporate a dietary supplement with keratin and collagen to your daily routine. You can buy a dieatary supplement with keratin and collagen here.
Silica takes many nutrients to the peripherals of the body, namely the hair, skin and nails, and thus ensures that the hair skin and nails get all nutrients for healthy nails, skin and hair.
Your nails are one of the hallmarks of beauty in modern culture. If you are not happy with the state of your nails, whether they are brittle, have spots on them, ridges or simply are not happy with the way they look, then silica supplementation may be beneficial. As mentioned above, silica takes all the nutrients to the nails helping not only to impart strength, but also feeds the nail bed with all the vital nutrients for encouraging healthy and strong nails.
Silica may be of great value when the skin begins to sag which obviously makes us look prematurely aged. One of the biggest components of collagen is actually silica. Since collagen is the connective tissue that makes up most of our skin, it is not difficult to realise the importance of adequate silica levels within our bodies. Having sufficient and well toned collagen will make our skin look soft and young which in turn helps with suppleness and an increased capability of being moisturised.
Whenever collagen is damaged in skin, and incidentally this is occurring all the time due to free radical damage, silica is required to take care of this by rebuilding and regenerating this connective tissue.
Silica is a vital mineral when you are shedding your hair excessively leading to hair loss and it also helps both women and men for lack lustre and thinning hair. It is important to understand how silica works to achieve healthy looking vitalised hair. An intake of silica will most definitely help to prevent hair thinning, restore vitality to hair and may even address hair loss.
You can buy a dieatary supplement with silica and collagen here.
A deficiency in vitamin B12 can result in entirely blue nails, bluish-black pigments with wavy longitudinal dark streaks and brownish pigmentation. Likewise, folate/folic acid, or vitamin B9, is important for nail growth and health by contributing to red blood cell formation and the development of new cells. A deficiency in folate can also make them rigid and brittle.
Other B vitamins are also important for nail health.
Vitamin B12 plays a role in iron absorption, as well as the development of red blood cells. Both iron and vitamin B12 are necessary for keeping nails strong and healthy.
Folate can be found in dark green vegetables, citrus fruits, beans, peas, lentils, nuts, seeds and avocado. On the other hand, B12 is primarily found in animal foods, such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy, though it can be fortified into other foods and beverages.
You can buy a dieatary supplement with folate and vitamin B12 here.
Your nails are made from hardened keratin, which is the protein that also makes up your hair strands, but they also contain calcium deposits. Calcium is a key mineral when it comes to maintaining the hardness and structure of nails, as well as keeping the tissues of the nail bed healthy. Ensuring your body getting enough calcium will keep your nails strong and less prone to dryness. Increasing your calcium intake alone is unlikely to fix the problem of brittle nails, however. You need to ensure you’re also getting sufficient vitamin D, as this helps the absorption of calcium from the foods you eat. It’s recommended to take a vitamin D supplement as dietary sources are rare. So when you lack vitamin D, you’ll start noticing that your nails are brittle and weak. You can buy a dietary supplment with vitamin D here.
Usually, the first sign of iron deficiency is brittle nails that chip and crack easily. In later stages of iron deficiency, spoon-shaped nails may occur, meaning that the middle of your nail dips and the edges raise to give a rounded appearance like a spoon.
Iron composes the center of red blood cells, which carry oxygen to your organs and every cell in your body — including your nails.
Without iron, oxygen does not get adequately carried to your cells.
As oxygen is needed for healthy nails, an iron deficiency or anemia can lead to vertical ridges in your nails or your nails may concave or “spoon”.
Your body absorbs the iron found in animal foods, such as beef, chicken, fish and eggs, better than that in plant foods like dark green leafy vegetables, peanuts, seeds, beans and other fortified foods.
However, eating a food rich in vitamin C together with a plant-based iron food source improves absorption. For example, eating oranges and strawberries alongside a spinach salad with beans and seeds improves your iron absorbtion. You can buy a dietary supplement with iron and vitamin C here.
Without enough zinc, the rate of nail growth decreases, and the nails themselves become fragile and brittle, causing them to crack and cause nail dystrophy. Nail dystrophy is the discoloration and distortion of a person’s nails. If zinc quantities in the body are particularly low, a person may lose their nails completely.
Zinc is required for many reactions in your body, including the growth and division of cells.
Nails are made up of a type of cell that grows and divides rapidly. Because of this fast production, a steady supply of zinc is needed to promote the healthy growth of nails.
Zinc deficiency can affect the nails in many ways:
Beau’s lines are often quite deep ridges in the nail, which run from one side of the nail to the other, ie not from top to bottom, but parallel to the cuticle. Beaus lines are harmless in themselves, but are often a sign of malnutrition or disease, or an injury to the area if it only affects one or two nails.They develop when there is a disruption to the area where nail growth starts.
Zinc deficiency is not the only cause of Beau’s lines, but it is a common one. Beau’s lines are the most common nail change to appear as a sign of a health issue that occurs elsewhere in the body.
Other causes of Beau’s nails include:
Deficiency in other essential nutrients
Muehrcke’s lines appear similarly to Beau’s lines. Instead of grooves, however, there are double white lines that go horizontally across the nails.
Onychorrhexis, or longitudinal ridging, causes ridges that run vertically along the nails.The condition increases the brittleness of the nails, which in turn increases the likelihood of the nails splitting.
Leukonychia appears as white coloration of the nails. Overall leukonychia is when the entire nail appears white, but there are also categories of partial leukonychia. Transverse leukonychia, or Mees’ lines, is when the coloration occurs in lines that extend across the width of the nail.
Animal proteins like beef, poultry, fish and eggs are rich sources of zinc. However, soy, chickpeas, black beans, nuts (such as almonds and cashews) and seeds also contain it. You can buy a dietary supplement with zinc here.
Magnesium is a mineral involved in over 300 reactions in your body, including protein synthesis, which is required for nail growth. Vertical ridges in your nails may be a sign of a magnesium deficiency.
Whole grains, specifically whole wheat, are a rich source of magnesium. Dark green leafy vegetables, as well as quinoa, almonds, cashews, peanuts, edamame and black beans, are good sources, too.