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Fingernail Health: What Vitamins Help Nails Grow

Updated on May 30, 2014
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Carolee is a passionate writer with a love for learning and teaching. She is a published author, poet, blogger, and content creator.


About the finger nails

Did you know that your finger nails are a living organ? They form a part of the outer layer of the body. They protect the fingers with their hardness and require nutrients for growth and health.

Fingers and toe nails must be treated with the same respect as your skin and hair. They need to be cleansed and nourished. Using harsh material on the nails will damage them too.

Brittle, flaking and discoloured nails are signs that they are unhealthy. There could be one or more of the following happening:

  • a nail fungus
  • an infection
  • a deficiency in nutrients
  • damage

The nail is made up primarily of a protein known as keratin and this tough covering of this section of the fingers is similar to horn, hooves and claws. Most, if not all mammals have one of these. Other substances that make up the nail are calcium, water, fat and sulphur.

The nail is supposed to protect the fingertip from hurt and damage . Imagine hitting the tip of the finger with a hammer, imagine if there was no nail their to protect the tissues.

Yes I know, it's so embarrassing..I badly need a should see my toes!
Yes I know, it's so embarrassing..I badly need a should see my toes! | Source

Nail disorders

  • Paronychia - People who work in water for long periods tend to have this problem. Such people, especially in Jamaica, are women who are called washer women. They hand wash people's clothing for a living. This infection is caused by fungus, bacteria or a virus. The infection is usually at the site of the nail fold which are the parts of the skin that surround the nail. In other words, where the skin meets the nail, except for the tip. There is usually pain, redness and swelling in the area. In Jamaica we call this infection "whittler". I have no idea why.
  • Onychomycosis - This is a fungus of the nail plate. When this happens a chalky substance will form between the tissue and the nails. In most cases it's due to genetic, diabetes or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. According (Life Extension) approximately 7% of adults in North America contract this infection.
  • Brittle nails - this is due to dryness of the nails because of ageing or the depletion of the nails' natural oils. When this happens the nails tend to split and flake.
  • Pitting - This is when an area on the nail place has sunken mostly caused from a skin condition such as psoriasis. The normal growth of the nail has been interrupted so there are dents found on the plate. Also occurs in people with connective tissue disorders, including Alopecia areata, Incontinentia pigmenti, pemphigus, Reiter’s syndrome, and sarcoidosis.
  • White nails - Caused primarily from liver disease, the nail bed becomes white with pink edges. Other factors that causes white nails are renal failure, diabetes and congestive heart failure.
  • Nail psoriasis - Definitely a disorder brough on by psoriasis. This is more severe than pitting as the nails have a reddish yellowish colour and the nail plate is separated from the nail bed.


Caring for the fingernails

Just like our skin we need to eat healthy to keep the nails healthy and we also need to treat them with the utmost care. They may look tough but are as delicate as our skin. Based on experience I think the skin is easier to repair than the nails. I say that because if the nail should split down the center it would take some amount of growth from the root in order to heal. The split section cannot close and heal together unlike the skin that can close and it looks like new.

Here are some tips to keep the nails healthy:

  • Wear rubber glover when handling harsh chemicals or handling water for long periods
  • When polishing the nails use a protective layer designed specifically as a base coat
  • Keep under the nails as clean as possible
  • Soften cuticles with a hand moisturiser or cuticle cream
  • Vitamin E hand cream or oil is great for moisturising and replenishing the hands and nails
  • Eat healthy
  • Do not use a harsh file on the nail plate and do not file for extended periods

Nail Nutrition

Daily dose
2.5 mg
Strengthen nails. Helps reduce brittleness, dryness, chipping and flaking.
Fish, legumes, beef, cabbage family, dairy and whole grains
Vitamin A
700-900 IU
Contains retinol, reduce free radicals and increase blood circulation damage and
Green leafy vegetables, carrots, red peppers, apricots, cantaloupe, papaya, mango, oatmeal, cod liver oil, eggs and dairy .
Vitamin C
75 mg
Creates Callogen to help build and repair the nails. Necessary for new growth and strength.
Citrus, grapes, most fruits and some vegetables
Vitamin D
Also manufactured in the body.
Prevents nails from becoming brittle, flaky na dry. Help the body absorbs calcium
Milk, beef liver, salmon, tuna, sprouts and fish liver oils.
Vitamin B-12
2.4 micrograms
Helos to keep red blood cells and nerve cells healthy
Seafood and meats

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