I have some really interesting information to share today with you. I talked a lot in my post “Connecting With (and loving!) Your Body” about how our bodies are always trying to communicate with us, and make us aware of various health and emotional issues that we need to address. In this post, I want to delve deeper into one area of our bodies that sometimes tells us quite a bit of information: our fingernails. Maybe you have noticed some funky behavior in your fingernails- white spots, ridges, bumps, lines, brittleness. Well, all of these are messages that your body is sending you to give you a heads up on areas of your health and diet that need a little extra attention. So please read on to find out which problems mean what and how we can work to fix them! 🙂
White spots on the nails can mean a couple of different things. One meaning is a zinc deficiency. This is an easy enough problem to fix, by incorporating more zinc into your diet. Some great foods rich in zinc are spinach, beans, nuts, seeds, and chicken. (It’s always better to try and incorporate vitamins like zinc into the foods that you eat, rather than just pop a zinc pill along with a bunch of other supplements. A well-rounded plant-based diet will give you plenty of zinc and all other necessary vitamins anyways!)
White spots can also indicate a calcium deficiency. Foods rich in calcium include dark leafy greens, bok choy, okra, broccoli, green beans, and almonds. (remember why we don’t love that dairy…)
Sometimes, getting an injury at the base of the nail can result in the formation of white spots. This is obviously a separate issue from vitamin deficiencies, so keep that in mind too when you are trying to understand why you have them.
The good thing about white spots is that they grow out with your nails, so they eventually disappear. As long as you have modified your diet to solve the root of the problem, you should see them vanish in no time!
Bumps or ridges all over nails
Vertical ridges in the nails are often normal signs of aging. They may also be due to nutrient deficiencies including vitamin B12 and magnesium. Vitamin B12 isn’t a bad one to take as a supplement- it is most frequently found in animal proteins, so for those of us like myself that prefer a plant based diet, it is easier to take orally.
Magnesium can be found in dark leafy greens, nuts, seeds, fish, beans, whole grains, avocados, bananas, and dried fruit.
Horizontal ridges are also called “Beau’s lines” and may be due to psoriasis, uncontrolled diabetes, circulatory disease, or severe zinc deficiency.
Rippled nails: If nails are rippled or pitted, “this may be an early sign of psoriasis or inflammatory arthritis. Discoloration of the nail is common; the skin under the nail can seem reddish-brown.” (source Webmd.com)
It is best not to buff nail ridges because they can be very thin and break or cause damage to the nail and nail bed if buffed.
Dark, thin vertical lines
I have had a couple of these myself at times, and they are tiny bleeding points in the nail bed. More often than not, they are not an indication of a bigger problem, but rather a result of some trauma to the nail.
They can also be a sign of an abnormality such as a fungal infection or nail psoriasis. If you feel that it is a big concern, you can see a dermatologist of course to verify.
I have also heard that dark thin lines can be a sign of heavy metals in the body. When my mother was undergoing chemotherapy, she was seeing these lines on some of her nails and was told that it was a result of the metals and heavy toxins in her body. Here is one easy way to remove heavy metals.
Weak, cracked, brittle nails
Very weak nails can be due to a number of things: deficiency in vitamins A and C or the B vitamin biotin.
Foods rich in Vitamin A include: sweet potatoes, carrots, dark leafy greens, winter squashes, lettuce, dried apricots, cantaloupe, bell peppers, and tropical fruits.
Foods rich in Vitamin C include: bell peppers, dark leafy greens, kiwifruit, broccoli, berries, citrus fruits, tomatoes, peas, and papayas.
It can also occur from excessive hand washing, or excessive use of nail polish remover and other chemicals.
Very pale nails
Abnormally pale nails can be a sign of a more serious condition such as malnutrition, anemia, congestive heart failure, and liver disease. This issue should be checked out right away with a doctor.
Yellow nails are often the result of wearing nail polish too frequently or using a very dark nail polish that is difficult to get fully off. In these cases, the yellow fades away with time and/or grows out.
However, it may also be an indication of a fungal infection, which you would want to address and treat as soon as you can.
Half moons are the little white crescent moon shaped part of your nail at the base of the nail. I have read that having these half moons is a sign of good health, and that they tend to fade away starting from the pinky finger and moving inward toward the thumb.
Half moons are also an indicator of a healthy thyroid. When they start to fade, it can be signs of a weaker thyroid.
(I’ve noticed that some people have big and healthy half moons, and some non at all! But we are all born with them, and children always have them intact 🙂 )
I hope, as always, that this was an informative and helpful post. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below 🙂
Until next time!
photo of dark line on nail: https://www.healthtap.com/topics/fingernails-lines
photo of cracked nail: http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/ss/slideshow-nails-and-health
photo of pale nails: http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/ss/slideshow-nails-and-health
photo of yellow nails: http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/ss/slideshow-nails-and-health