Your nails may be small, but they play an important role helping to protect your fingers and improve dexterity. They can also provide important clues about the status of your health.
Take a close look at your nails. Are they strong and healthy looking? Or do you see ridges, dents or areas of unusual color or shape? Many less than desirable nail conditions can be avoided through proper care, but some actually indicate a deficiency or illness that requires attention.
Nails have no color and are transparent. Because of the abundance of blood vessels under the skin, nails appear pink when healthy. The tissue of the nail is called the matrix and the white half-moon is at the top of this. Below the matrix is the nail bed, where the nail attaches to the finger. The skin that grows over the nail bed is the cuticle and it grows towards the tip of the nail and forms a watertight seal protecting the matrix. You should never cut away the cuticle because this increases the chance of getting a nail infection.
Massaging your cuticles with oils, such as camellia or almond, can soften the skin, which helps when pushing back the cuticle when manicuring your nails. Rosehip oil is also a good choice because it contains prostaglandin, which strengthens the nail cells and increases circulation that can stimulate growth.
Nail Problems – Signs to Look For
Brittle, discolored nails, or nails with lines may be symptoms of changes within the body. Thyroid, kidney or problems with circulation could be the cause of brittle nails. Also, lack of certain vitamins A, omega-3 fatty acids or calcium in your diet may also be a contributing factor.
Vertical lines in your nails may be caused by a shortage of iron, while lines that are horizontal indicate stress levels are raised. Also, both of these symptoms may indicate none or little absorption of nutrients. White spots on the nail are signs of a poor diet. Nails which peel, crack or chip easily may be caused by lack of minerals being absorbed. A mineral supplement may help with this.
Common Nail Problems and Possible Causes
- Spoon-shaped nails – lack of iron
- Square, wide nails – hormonal imbalances
- Very thick nails – possible thyroid condition
- End of nail curves down – lack of vitamin B12
To ensure healthy nails, your diet should include plenty of fruit and vegetables. Adding a supplement to your diet can also help restore important nutrients needed to maintain healthy nails.
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