One of the subtlest early signs of early pregnancy can be speedy nail growth, but it isn’t all good on the nail front when you’re growing a new life. Unfortunately, these new speedily grown nails may some with additional brittleness, grooves and even separation of the nail from the bed. When your nails are looking less than their best, there’s only so much a manicure can do to restore their former glory.
The key component that makes up the structure of your nails is keratin, an incredibly tough protein that’s essential to healthy growth. Our hair also contains keratin, so the same foods that work to boost nail health will also help to give your hair a full, lustrous shine. Without enough amino acids, your body can’t keep producing keratin, so it’s important to include plenty of protein in your diet.
Red meats such as beef and lamb are loaded with proteins that can help you to produce keratin as needed. You’ll also be getting a decent dose of iron, which is not only essential to overall health but also affects the development of finger and toenails. Iron deficiency is associated with koilonychia, a condition where nails grow rounded and inverted.
While iron is an important nutrient, keep in mind that you should only eat red meats once or twice per weeks at most. Beef, lamb, and other such proteins also contain saturated fats that can increase your personal risk of developing heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, and more. Other sources of iron that you can add to your diet are from whole foods including beans, leafy greens, tofu, and enriched grains. Iron is absolutely vital to a healthy pregnancy too so if you can keep your natural iron levels high you may be able to avoid the supplements which are regularly given in pregnancy.
Fish, crustaceans, and shellfish are all excellent sources of protein that are low in fat and high in nutritional value. Lean meats such as salmon and mackerel contain biotin, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids that promote healthy skin development and reduce inflammation that might otherwise affect the healthy development of the nail plate.
Oysters are particularly good for brittle nails, as they contain more zinc per serving than any other food, according to National Institutes of Health. Zinc is essential to producing hair and nail proteins. Zinc can also help to combat premature hair loss.
If you are pregnant, then many doctors will advise against the consumption of seafood. However, so long as you still maintain a balanced diet and have access to adequate maternity care then your nails are likely to grow longer and stronger during your nine months with child. This is due to the extra hormones that you’re carrying.
Nuts and Seeds
Many nuts, including brazil nuts, walnuts, and cashews, are loaded with the healthy proteins and fats needed to produce keratin. Pumpkin seeds, almonds, and sunflower seeds also contain high levels of magnesium, which helps to maintain the integrity of your nails. Vertical ridges can be the first a sign of a magnesium deficiency in your diet.
Some seeds contain additional vitamins and nutrients that can encourage healthy nail growth. Sunflower seeds contain Vitamin B6, zinc, and Vitamin E, all of which contribute to strong bones and healthy nails.