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Fingernail Health: What Vitamins Help Nails Grow

Updated on May 30, 2014
Cardisa profile image

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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    • Cardisa profile image

      Carolee Samuda 5 years ago from Jamaica

      Hi James, you are right, sometimes it's just easier to take a pill. I personally don't take any supplements other than cod liver oil....occasionally. We had a long dry spell as well but it seems we will be getting some rain soon. The last few weeks have had a few days of rain. I hope you get some rains too.

    • SubRon7 profile image

      James W. Nelson 5 years ago from eastern North Dakota

      Another interesting hub, Carolee. I watched the first short video. The way those fingers were moving at the beginning was almost sensual. I used to eat little cups of jello as my nails would get somewhat brittle. Then I decided that was too expensive and switched to combination capsules of silica and gelatin, and I think that is taking care of it. I do try to get my nutrients from food but sometimes it's just easier with a pill. Really looking forward to my garden producing this year, but it's been dry.

    • Cardisa profile image

      Carolee Samuda 5 years ago from Jamaica

      Hey Loi, nice to see an actual photo! To keep your nails healthy care for them and eat right.

    • Loi-Renee profile image

      Loi-Renee 5 years ago from Jamaica

      I love my nails. I don't use acrylic or strong chemicals on my nails and they are long and going strong. I need to work on getting them to stay that way. Thanks for the information Cardisa.

    • Cardisa profile image

      Carolee Samuda 5 years ago from Jamaica

      Hi Green Lotus, I hate acrylic too! Luckily seem to have great nails that really grow fast. Thanks for stopping by my friend.

    • Green Lotus profile image

      Hillary 5 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      OOoh this is so interesting, but I think I am beyond the help of vitamins. I do take many of the vitamins you suggest, but heredity is a big factor in my case. I think I've tried all the natural routes and finally settled for natural diamond nails. No side effects (to date) and no smelly acrylics! Rated UP!!

    • Cardisa profile image

      Carolee Samuda 5 years ago from Jamaica

      Thanks Dexter, will be over shortly to check out your latest!

    • Dexter Yarbrough profile image

      Dexter Yarbrough 5 years ago from United States

      Great information, Cardisa!

    • Cardisa profile image

      Carolee Samuda 5 years ago from Jamaica

      Hey Goodlady, when I used acrylic on my nails sometimes they would be soft after removing them. I don't know the long life stuff you are talking but some substances tend to dry out the nail. The sculpting gel works better.

    • GoodLady profile image

      Penelope Hart 5 years ago from Rome, Italy

      Cardisa hi? Does having that special long life nair varnish on your nails ruin them. I had some super manicures in Los Angeles with this long lasting stuff, but now my nails are really soft, now that I've removed it.

      Liked this Hub lots. Love nice nails.


    • Cardisa profile image

      Carolee Samuda 5 years ago from Jamaica

      Hi Rebecca, I also used Sally Hanson. I also need to try that Nailtique. Thanks for stopping by.

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 5 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      I love that time lapse video. This is great info! I have used Sally Hanson in the past....need to get more, thanks for the reminder!

    • Cardisa profile image

      Carolee Samuda 5 years ago from Jamaica

      Hi Jackie, mine grow so fast I have to cut then every few Your garden must be pretty if you spend a lot of time there.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 5 years ago from The Beautiful South

      Not to brag I have great nails, the problem is I am into too much. Dirt and yard work and it seems I break a nail every day. It must be an age thing, I just reach for something and wham, there goes a nail! Great thing to write about! Useful and interesting.

    • Cardisa profile image

      Carolee Samuda 5 years ago from Jamaica

      Hello Mike, thank you for pointing out that. It's really supposed to be vitamins and minerals.

    • Cardisa profile image

      Carolee Samuda 5 years ago from Jamaica

      Hi Teaches, thanks for your feedback. It is so rewarding when people people leave positive feedback instead of pointing out your inadequacies. People want to know that the information they provide will be of use to someone. Thank you.

    • MikeNV profile image

      MikeNV 5 years ago from Henderson, NV

      I don't know what you mean by "vitamin of mineral". Biotin is Vitamin H or B7 or Coenzyme r. Not on your list and absolutely essential for proper nail growth is Magnesium. Poor nail health is an indicator for a lot of medical problems. Essentially if you are healthy and eating nutritionally sound you'll have normal nail growth, if not you won't.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      This is information I can use. I love having long nails that look good. Your vitamin chart is a great piece of information to use as a guide. The first video did a basic job on the nails and it also referred to some low cost products that can be found at CVS. This is doable for me. Thanks for posting.