Foods You Should Eat To Promote Healthy Nail Growth

No amount of nail art can adequately conceal unhealthy and brittle nails. And if you've been dealing with fingernails that are soft and bending, you probably already know this. When you're eager to grow them strong and long, chipping and weak nails can be really frustrating. 

As kids, we were told by our parents not to bite our nails, and while dermatologists will continue to note this habit as a no-go if you want healthy, long, and strong nails, there's more on the list — like smoking, overdoing nail-related beauty treatments, cutting cuticles, or using abrasive cleaning substances (without gloves). Your nails are also an excellent indicator of your overall health, which is why healthcare professionals would advise you to visit a specialist if you notice unusual color or texture changes in your nail bed. 

Much like hair, nails directly benefit from the things we eat too. The healthier you eat, the stronger your nails become. These are the most important foods you should be consuming if you want strong nails.

Lean meats and salmon

Lean meats like skinless chicken and turkey, beef, and pork can promote healthy nail growth, according to dermatologist and author Dr. Ava Shamban (via HuffPost). "Nails are made out of protein, so the first thing you can try is adding more to your diet," she explained. Lean meats also provide a good amount of iron to your diet, another important nutrient in nail health. 

Beef is rich in zinc, so if you're looking to fix and prevent brittle nails, you may want to think about adding zinc to your diet. In fact, if you notice white spots on your nails, this could be a sign of low zinc, as put by nutritional therapist Thalia Pellegrini to Reader's Digest U.K., tofu is an excellent alternative zinc source for vegans or vegetarians. It's also a great source of another nail supernutrient — calcium. 

If you're more of a fish person, try including salmon in your meals as a source of protein. You'll be getting biotin, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamins B6 and B12 to promote stronger nails too. 

Load up on fruits

Fruits really are a nutritionally-rich food group when it comes to most health concerns, and your nails aren't going to be left out of this equation. They're easy to include in your diet and taste great. Fruits come with a rich supply of antioxidants that are vital for healthy nails. 

Registered dietitian Erin Palinski-Wade recommended adding antioxidant-packed blueberries to your diet (via Health Magazine). "Antioxidants help protect your body's cells against free radical damage. This damage increases stress hormones and inflammation, which impacts all cells in the body, including those in the hair and nails," she explained. 

Not a fan of blueberries? Don't need to fret. The humble kiwi packs a punch too. The fruit high in vitamin C, vitamin K, fiber, and potassium, is great for nails. As Pellegrini shared with Reader's Digest U.K., vitamin C "is essential for the production of collagen, a protein that gives shape, strength and integrity to many tissues and is the building block of fingernails, as well as your hair and teeth." Citrus foods, strawberries, and avocados and good fruits for nail health too. 

Vegetables including dark leafy greens

There's a reason why we were coaxed to eat the greens on our plates as kids. Dark leafy green vegetables — like broccoli, spinach, and kale — are a great source of magnesium, which is essential to promote nail growth. They also contain other nutritional benefits like iron and calcium. Spinach, which is rich in Vitamin A, can be added to smoothies too. If you're looking to add leafy greens to other dishes like curries or eat them as they are, there is a recommended way to consume them. New York-based celebrity manicurist Jackie Saulsbery told Food Network, "Don't cook them down. Leave them kind of crunchy or you will cook all the vitamins out of them."

When it comes to other vegetables, start adding pumpkins, carrots, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, and bell peppers to your food list. While the first three are great sources of vitamin A, the latter two are packed full of vitamin C. Both vitamins are essential for healthy nails.

Want to keep your nails healthy in between manicures? Start reaching for the greens at the dinner table. 

All about the nuts and seeds

Nuts and seeds are often easily overlooked foods when it comes to nutrients we should be consuming. They contain the B-complex vitamin of biotin, as well as folate, iron, magnesium, and protein, essential for healthy nails. 

Sunflower seeds would be a good place to start. As explained by health and wellness expert Vivian Goldschmidt, this food, rich in magnesium, vitamin B6, zinc, and vitamin E, also contains "the trace minerals manganese and copper, which are essential for the synthesis and production of connective tissue in bones and cartilage."

Other nuts you can include in your diet are pistachios, almonds, and hazelnuts, all of which are great sources of omega-3 and 6 fatty acids. Pumpkin seeds, high in protein, vitamin E, zinc, and fiber, are also a good food to consume. It won't hurt to throw in some hemp seeds for additional protection. The key with adding nuts and seeds into your diet is to find seamless ways to incorporate them. Snacking on them from time to time is one good idea, but you can easily sprinkle them into salads that you make too. 

You can't go wrong with eggs

There is a reason why everyone keeps telling you that eggs are an easy way to get the protein you need. According to Goldschmidt, eggs, unlike meats, contain protein in a way that's "highly digestible and easily taken up by the body." There are so many different ways to consume eggs too, making them a versatile addition to your diet.

Eggs are a good source of biotin. "This nutrient, also known as B7, may encourage healthy cell growth and aids in the metabolism of protein-building amino acids that are essential for nail growth. Biotin has been shown to be helpful for brittle nails," shared Pellegrini (via Reader's Digest U.K.). If you are vegan or vegetarian, try soybeans for your biotin fix. 

Keeping your nail bed healthy doesn't have to become a complicated and grueling task. Adding nail health-boosting foods to your meals is a sure and consistent way to promote strong and long nails that will make you proud whether or not you're wearing nail polish.