Our body has different ways of alarming us about its internal functioning—hair fall, skin abnormalities, and more play a significant role in doing so.
One crucial part of our body which helps us understand underlying deficiencies or abnormalities is nails. These help direct us towards signs of vitamin deficiency in nails.
Nails may have an unexplained inflammation, or sometimes these symptoms are accompanied by other bodily changes which direct us towards an alarming struggle our body may be going through internally. Chipped nails, brittle nails, or nails with darkened linings may have been a familiar sight for many and are signs of vitamin deficiency in nails. Signs like these often indicate Vitamin D deficiency, iron deficiency, or even both in some cases.
The overall condition of nails helps understand the functioning of the internal body as well.
What Do Healthy Nails Look Like?
Nails that do not show signs of vitamin deficiency in nails are considered to have healthy nail growth. They feature a smooth texture without any kind of discoloration. The tint that has been deemed healthy is usually pinkish. A person without iron deficiency, Anemia, or any of the deficiencies, will generally have nails with a light pink tint on them.
Types Of Nail Conditions
Just your fingernails and nail health can sometimes play a significant role in detecting nutritional deficiencies or sometimes something even serious accompanied with other symptoms.
Let’s see the different types of nail conditions generally noticed as signs of vitamin deficiency in nails:
1. White Spots
This is the most common pattern seen in nails – those white, random spots on the nails. These are also referred to as Milk spots or, more specifically, Leukonychia. It is often implied that this is caused due to vitamin deficiencies. However, this has turned out largely to be a misconception. The possibility of vitamin deficiencies has been ruled by a much simpler explanation.
White spots on our nails simply occur due to injuries or minute bumping – yes, that’s all.
But also, these can sometimes be a sign of zinc deficiency or an allergic reaction.
The one way to fix this is by letting your nails breathe. This means do not put any layer of nail polish and allow your nails to grow naturally. A common practice to strengthen nails and avoid future injuries is to use Vitamin E hand cream or grapeseed oil.
2. Brittle Nails
Brittle nails appear to be in fragments by the edges and have a dull, yellowish tint on them. These rough, splitting nails can also break very easily and frequently. The medical term for this condition is Onychoschia.
This is one of the most common nail abnormalities, and the reason stands to be frequent wetting of the nails.
In more severe and prolonged cases, this condition can also indicate hypothyroidism and Iron deficiency.
As long as only the fingernails are affected, there is not much need to be alarmed. However, if, along with the fingernails, the toenails also show similar signs of brittle nails, then it can indicate a nail infection which will need thorough treatment.
3. Soft Nails
As the title suggests, soft nails break very easily or bend even before being snapped with a nail cutter. These indicate nutritional deficiencies such as vitamin B, calcium, or iron deficiency. These are some of the most common signs of vitamin deficiency in nails.
This is often caused by harsh chemicals, detergents, and even nail polish remover.
What one can do to fix this is to avoid getting their nails in contact with strong chemicals. Another thing to keep in mind is to make sure if you are – or are not – iron deficient. If you are not, then refrain from taking iron supplements, as this can encourage weak nails.
Ridges can occur on nails in vertical as well as horizontal lines. In vertical ridges, there is not much need to be concerned as it is generally a sign of aging. These ridges run from the tip of the nail to the cuticle. If these ridges show any signs of color change, you must seek medical advice.
However, horizontal lines or ridges are of more significant concern. These are often a symptom associated with health conditions such as kidney diseases.
Buffing seems to be a good option for fighting off vertical ridges. Whereas, to fix horizontal ridges, medical assistance is highly required.
Similar to white spots, peeling can be a result of trauma caused due to hitting, wound healing, or when removing acrylic nail paint. This can also result from keeping your nails in foamy water for very long.
Koilonychias is the medical term used to imply a condition commonly referred to as spoon-shaped nails. As the simpler time suggests, the nails in this condition appear similar to a spoon – concave, curved inwards.
The cause of this issue stands to be an apparent iron deficiency. While some also suggest the play of harsh chemical agents which wear the overall quality of the nails.
7. Beau’s Lines
A French physician named Joseph Honore Simon Beau first noticed this condition of the nails – hence the name.
Commonly, this condition is known as Transverse Grooves. The nails feature one or more transverse furrows on the nail’s surface in this condition.
Common causes of this condition are external injury damages caused by a side effect from certain medications and therapies such as chemotherapy. Even people who constantly have cold hands or feet face this issue.
To fix this condition, one can only be patient and wait for it to select within five to six months. Another helping tip will be to avoid exposing hands or feet to colder environments to worsen the condition.
8. Watch-Glass Nails
Watch-glass nails are medically referred to as nail clubbing. The condition is opposite from spoon nails. Instead of turning concave, in this condition, the nail turns convex. Along with this, the foremost tip of the nails appears to be swollen as well.
The cause of this issue roots from internal lung or heart disease, which must be taken to medical attention.
9. Split Nails
Now, this is one of those conditions that can generally make people go “ouch!”.
In this condition, the nail bed breaks down and is separated from the rest of the part. This is an extremely annoying condition at times, given that clothes can generally get caught and cause even more pain.
The cause of this condition is external damage due to chemical or an abrupt injury.
As painful and bothering the condition sounds, the solution, on the other hand, is quite simple. Use nail glue to re-attach the separated part or brush up some clear nail polish over it. The isolated or broken part will grow back in generally in some time.
Nails Changing Colour
Another type of physical change that might take place on one’s nails is the change in its color. The shape may look fine, but slight color changes can sometimes suggest internal deficiencies and illnesses.
1. Purple-Blue Nails
A purple-bluish tint on your nails in most cases indicates poor circulation of blood. The nails can appear of this tint even in cases when one is exposed to colder temperatures as that again causes poor blood flow in the body, especially on fingertips and toes.
2. Yellow Nails
Yellowing of nails is most often the beginning sign of a fungal infection. In the later stages, when the disease worsens without any treatment, it tends to break and crumble.
If these fungal infections are left without treatment, they may or may not get better – only after getting worse and an unpleasant sight with a heavy tinge of pain. Hence, it is better to get this checked out and seek professional medical advice to speed up the healing process.
In other rare cases, these can also be a symptom of diabetes, thyroid imbalance, or psoriasis.
What is Psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a dry skin condition featuring patchiness and is generally caused by infections.
3. Black Lines
This condition is also referred to as Splinter Haemorrhage, and the color can vary from dark red-brown to stark black.
Common causes include trauma caused to the nails and result as an injury. Other than this, in rare cases, this can also direct towards more serious underlying conditions such as Endocarditis or nail melanoma.
This rare condition roots from one of the most important organs – the heart. In this, the heart undergoes particular inflammation, which is usually caused by bacteria.
ii) Nail Melanoma
This falls under the category of skin cancer which is serious. Cancer occurs under the nails and can spread out to other parts of the body if left untreated.
Redness in nails can usually result from biting or peeling, resulting in inflammation due to unhealthy habits. However, sometimes this can also cause concern as the culprit may be an allergic reaction to products related to the nail.
Redness is usually not one of the signs of vitamin deficiency in nails.
Other Symptoms Along With Signs Of Vitamin Deficiency In Nails To Be Careful About
As mentioned earlier, many of the issues rooting from the nails can be cured with patience, minimal treatment options, and by improving inadequate dietary intake.
However, when other symptoms accompany a nail issue, there may be a more severe cause of concern that demands medical assistance.
These symptoms are:
- Abrupt loss of weight
- Dizziness and extreme fatigue
- Feeling thirsty more often
- Sudden sweating while sleeping
- Irregular or faster heartbeats
- Noticing or undergoing symptoms of depression or other mental imbalances
In the cases mentioned above, it is advisable to visit a trained professional to get started with the diagnosis and treatment as soon as possible. At times, symptoms mentioned above, accompanied by signs of vitamin deficiency in nails, demand medical attention.
Many of the conditions related to nails are often signs of mineral deficiencies, vitamin c deficiency, protein deficiency, or general nutrient deficiencies. To deal with signs of vitamin deficiency in nails, the following are some methods mentioned.
Some of the standard treatment methods that one can opt for are:
1. For Dryness
To fight off dryness, use moisturizing lotions and thoroughly check for the composition – it must contain Lanolin or alpha hydroxy acids. For home remedies, coconut oil works best to deal with dryness.
2. For Weak Nails
When it comes to weak nails, calcium is usually the one that needs some improvement. Increase your overall calcium intake by including milk and its products in your dietary intake.
3. Breathing Space
If you are someone who paints their nails regularly, make sure to leave some time in between for your nails to breathe. Give your nails enough time to stay uncoated and avoid nail polish.
4. Nutritional Deficiency
As discussed, many of the body’s abnormalities come to play due to some or other deficiency. To defy the signs of vitamin deficiency in nails, a healthy diet must be followed.
For dryness, a top-notch way to handle it is to use Omega 3 essential fatty acids. This can help lubricate nails and provide sufficient moisture, subsequently enhancing nail quality.
5. Biotin Supplements
A Biotin deficiency features dermatitis, alopecia, and more similar conditions. In some cases, biotin supplements have proven to work wonders. They improve nail health, prevent further splitting and thicken the nails.
These can help with improving the signs of vitamin deficiency in nails. However, consulting a doctor is a must.
However, be careful about discontinuing the course about two weeks before getting any tests done, as this may interfere with the results.
To clearly understand the mechanism of biotin supplements, make sure to first consult a trusted doctor.
6. Soft Gel Capsules
When it comes to dealing with severe vitamin deficiencies, most commonly vitamin b12, soft gel capsules are much more advisable than compressed one-a-day tablets.
This is because tablets are much more difficult for our bodies to digest. Whereas gel capsules can be broken down, and the essential minerals and vitamins will be absorbed by our bodies much more effectively.
The Final Note
Issues related to nails can erupt from various reasons, most of them accompanied by certain deficiencies. To maintain the signs of vitamin deficiency in nails, it is advisable to have a proper, nutritious diet that involves a balanced quantity of essential proteins, vitamins, and healthy fats.
Anemia has been diagnosed in the majority of the patients complaining about poor nail health and widespread signs of vitamin deficiency in nails, along with iron deficiency. Make sure to include iron-rich items in your diet.
However, if your nails have started to appear odd out of the blue with other severe symptoms, there is a potential risk of a severe underlying medical condition. In cases such as these, it is crucial to keep a keen eye on your body’s functioning and get medical health as soon as possible.
Different solutions work better for different bodies when it comes to treatment options. Hence, if you opt for a more complex treatment to deal with signs of vitamin deficiencies in nails, please be sure first to get it thoroughly checked and consulted by a trusted doctor.
Content is medically reviewed periodically by professionals for accuracy and relevance. Reviewers include doctors, nurses, mental health professionals, and even medical students.