HAND-Y TO KNOW Here’s what the state of your nails says about your health (and what those white spots mean)

Problems with your talons could indicate an iron deficiency or a diminished water intake

08 September 2018 - 08:15

MOST of us don't realise it, but the condition of our nails can tell us a lot about our health.

From white spots to flakiness, the minor issues that mess up our manicures may actually be indications of bigger problems.

Fiona Lawson - a registered nutritional therapist and nutritionist - suggests that our nails can reveal signs of iron deficiency, low magnesium and a lack of water.

She tells Glamour: "Studies suggest that the nutrient levels in your nails correlate with nutrient levels in the rest of your body.

"This association - coupled with the fact that it takes half a year to grow an entirely new nail plate - means your current nails can give clues about how your health has been faring for the six months."

Having trouble with your talons? This is what it could mean...

 White spots can be a sign of nail trauma
 
White spots can be a sign of nail trauma

White spots

It's widely believed that white spots indicate a lack of calcium or zinc, but the research on this is inconclusive.

They could actually be a sign of trauma, such as hitting your nails or biting them.

To solve the issue, you'll want to indulge in a bit of TLC.

Leave your nails polish-free for a month or two and moisturise them regularly.

Soft nails

If your nails bend easily, they may be too soft - a condition technically known as hapalonychia.

As it's the proteins in the nail matrix that create their hardness, your best bet is upping your protein intake.

Make sure you're eating a palm-sized portion of protein with each meal.

It's also important that you're getting enough vitamin D and vitamin A.

Boost your vitamin D levels through sensible sun exposure, and eat three servings of oily fish every week.

For vitamin A, munch on plenty of green and orange vegetables, such as carrots, spinach and sweet potatoes.

 In a lot of cases, adjusting your diet can help to improve your nails
 
In a lot of cases, adjusting your diet can help to improve your nails

Brittle nails

It’s estimated that 1 in 5 adults suffers from weak, dry, thin and easily-breakable nails.

Why? Well, it's usually down to water intake.

Nails are made up of around 18% water, and when these levels drop below 16%, they can become dry and prone to breakage.

To fix the issue, try to drink two litres of water daily.

A deficiency of zinc has also been found to contribute to brittle nails, so add foods such as beef, pumpkin seeds and lentils to your diet.

If these don't take your fancy, it's suggested that you take 15–30mg of zinc supplements daily for three months.

 Sometimes, it's best to lay off the polish for a while
Sometimes, it's best to lay off the polish for a while

Flaky nails

Flaky nails sounds similar to brittle nails, but there are a few differences.

Rather than breaking entirely, flaky nails are more prone to splitting or peeling.

Nails contain a range of minerals, but studies have found a particular correlation between low magnesium and flaky nails.

Magnesium is found in many everyday foods, such as spinach and pulses, so try to consume a magnesium-rich side with every meal.

 Our nails are around 18% water
 
Our nails are around 18% water

Spoon-shaped nails

Nails that curve up at the sides - or look unusually pale - have been associated with iron-deficiency anaemia.

One of the best sources of iron is red meat, while vegetarians and vegans can eat lentils, spinach and sesame seeds to increase their intake.

Low dose iron supplements are available at pharmacies and supermarkets, while someone with anaemia may be prescribed higher dose tablets for around six months.

In more beauty news, this is how to stop nail biting.

A woman has had her thumb amputated after NAIL BITING habit 'caused skin cancer'.

And a horrified mum accidentally ripped off her eyebrow while peeling off a face mask.

 

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