The surplus of readily available vitamins and dietary supplements can leave us confused when we’re looking to focus on keeping our nails healthy. How do we know what really works?
While we are all for expert, professional help (visit your registered dietitian nutritionist), it’s also essential to stay informed on the vitamins that mostly affect us and the different areas of our lives.
Vitamins are on top of our minds when we think about ways to promote optimal nail health.
The Beauty Supplements Craze
Noticing a decrease in the health of your nails often means we turn to popular supplements that promise the necessary nutrients to get us back on track!
While it’s true that our nails, hair and skin do need the right vitamins to thrive, the way to achieve that is not always as simple as remembering to take your favorite gummies in the morning.
In reality, there is only a set amount of vitamins our bodies can process - since we are able to get a lot of them through food sources, supplements might not always ‘work,’ or contribute significantly to our nail and hair health.
If we were to take more of a particular vitamin than our body can process, that vitamin would not be processed, but rather just flushed out of our system. In other words, blindly taking “good” nail vitamins and supplements may not lead to the results you’re looking for straight away.
There are better and more practical approaches to getting the right amount of these specific nutrients into your system such as through diet and consuming more whole foods. Increasing vitamin levels through your diet is the number one way to naturally improve your nail health and contribute to your general well-being. That’s right! You've got nothing to lose.
Of course, there is always a chance you are indeed not getting those vitamins properly through your everyday diet.
In that case, supplements can definitely do the trick. The number one thing to remember is: everybody is different! Knowing your body well is step number one to figuring out how to take care of it.
Let's get started
With that in mind, we have compiled a list of some of the best nail vitamins for healthy results, as well as getting into how you can integrate these into your lifestyle for beautiful, natural, and stronger nails year-round. Let’s take a look at some of the best vitamins for healthy nails!
Also known as B-7, biotin supplements are known today as one of the most popular ways of promoting nail and hair health. Indicated to help combat brittle nails, a biotin supplement is said to target overall nail strength and growth.
Its presence in a wide variety of foods makes biotin deficiency a rare circumstance, though it is possible. Rather than going straight for the supplement, try intentionally integrating biotin-rich foods into your everyday meals.
Packed with amino acids, this vitamin B helps to keep nails strong by promoting keratin production in the body. Also known to support healthy hair, keratin is responsible for the nail tissue-building cells.
By consuming the right whole foods instead of focusing on supplements, you are able to increase the biotin in your system in a way that is easy for your body to process and use.
No matter what your dietary restrictions and personal preferences are, there is a wide variety of ways you can integrate and enjoy these foods. Popular options include bananas, different kinds of nut butters (i.e. almond and peanut), legumes, and egg yolks.
If biotin-rich foods are difficult to integrate into your diet, however, supplements may be the right call for you when it comes to nurturing healthy nails. Just like other b vitamins, biotin brings a variety of many different benefits, amongst them, targeting the 'hair skin nails' combo!
If you do opt for the supplement itself, remember to be patient! Just like many other supplements and nutrients, biotin should be consumed at a consistent rate over a longer period of time for optimal results.
Selenium is another highly indicated supplement for strengthening brittle nails. While it is only necessary for optimal organism function in very small amounts, it might be good to consider taking a supplement if foods like fish and shellfish, whole grains, or Brazil nuts are missing from your usual diet.
If there is one supplement you’ve probably heard about when researching skin, nail, and hair health, it’s collagen. Often marketed as targeting all three areas of the body, this famous protein is a naturally occurring part of our bodies, and essential for many of our most basic functions.
Simply put, collagen protein is an absolutely essential nutrient that holds our bodies together! With age, our natural collagen production decreases, leading to a consequent decrease in its quantity over time. There we have it: weaker nails and the increased appearance of wrinkles and fine lines on the skin.
Collagen supplements can be controversial, with many stating that popular alternatives like powders aren’t actually easily absorbed by our bodies, and do not lead to an increase in the protein in our systems.
The good news? Collagen is also highly present in foods and can be introduced into your system naturally. Fish, lean meat, eggs, berries, bone broth, avocados, dairy products, and garlic are all foods known to be rich in collagen.
While there are plenty of vitamins we recommend obtaining naturally through whole foods, certain conditions certainly justify an extra supplement.
Iron deficiency, for example, can be treated both with iron-rich foods and with iron tablets.
While there are many other symptoms to look out for if you suspect iron deficiency, brittle nails are indeed an indicator of low iron levels in the system. If you suspect this might be you, visit your healthcare professional for official tests.
Foods like kale and fortified cereals can also be used to enrich your diet with extra doses of iron.
Ever spot foreign vertical ridges or white spots in your nail beds? These might be indicators of a lack of zinc in your system.
Beyond leading to brittle nails, zinc deficiency will infamously lead to unusual grooves and lines on your nails where there were none.
Zinc-rich foods include shellfish (try lobster, crab, and oysters!), as well as things such as whole grains, nuts, and dairy products.
If you do find ridges in your nail bed but have ruled out zinc as your vitamin deficiency, consider changing your focus to magnesium. Unlike other vitamins on this list, magnesium is commonly listed as being under-consumed by certain populations, meaning it's not unlikely you might need to up your game on this front as well.
Quinoa, different types of nuts, and black beans, for example, are all magnesium-rich foods that can help you achieve strong nails.
Found abundantly in citrus fruits, this water-soluble vitamin is an essential part of our organisms. Beyond being a vital nutrient for various processes like the production of collagen and tissue repair, it also acts as an antioxidant, fighting the free radicals in our bodies.
It's no surprise that vitamin c is one also indicated to not only combat weak nails but also to promote nail growth and healthy hair. Since it is not able to be produced by our bodies, this vitamin must be obtained entirely from outside sources, such as our food intake and extra supplements when necessary.
Eager to get into it? Make sure to include bell peppers and oranges on your next grocery list.
Things to keep in mind
If you have focused on your diet but still feel like you need an extra hand, then certain vitamins for nails might be the right thing for you.
If this is the direction you choose to go in, there are a few things to keep in mind!
Vitamins for nails often work in conjunction with one another (see vitamin C and collagen, for example!). This means that you are likely to find great quality beauty supplements that contain more than one vitamin, formulated to tackle hair, skin, and nail health at once.
Finding a versatile and all-encompassing vitamin medley can make your life way easier when formulating a practical and attainable regiment and beauty routine. We're personally loving Wellbel Glamlab since it includes vitamin D, biotin, selenium and methysulfonylmethane (MSM) which is great for improving the strength of hair and nails and supports the production of collagen and elastin for your skin.
Take it slow
Before introducing a new supplement into your life, make sure to read the instructions and consume the supplements or vitamins in the way they are intended before adding them to your daily routine - usually, one capsule per day should be plenty to get the desired results.
As previously mentioned, overdoing it will not speed up any sort of healthy growth process when it comes to hair, skin, and nail health - it just means you'll be wasting your supplements by consuming more than your body is able to absorb!
Vitamins aimed at nails tend to be pretty safe for the general public, but we can never be too careful! Keep an eye out for any adverse side effects from new supplements or vitamins in your diet. If you feel unsure about integrating any one nutrient in your diet through means other than food, don't hesitate to reach out to your doctor or dietician for expert advice.
As one of your first steps when looking for the right vitamins, make sure to focus on quality. Whether you choose to go for biotin, selenium, or any other nail supplement, there are always 'good' and not-so-good alternatives on the market.
As vitamins have grown in popularity over the years and taken over the beauty and wellness industries, many have been looking to profit from lower-quality versions of these famous nutrients, which will not provide the necessary quantities of the vitamins you may be looking to replenish. As a general guideline, always research your brands and sources thoroughly before making an informed decision.
Disclaimer: Always consult your primary care physician about underlying health conditions and the best options available for you before taking new vitamins or supplements. Having strong nails doesn't have to mean sacrificing other areas of your health!