Your nails go through a lot each day and it can be so frustrating when you’ve finally grow them out to the perfect length, only for them to break after you’ve done the dishes.
With the best will in the world (and all the nail oil money can buy) one major lifestyle factor could in fact be causing all your nail problems – your diet.
We spoke to dietitian Lucy Jones, who has appeared on BBC 1’s Eat Well For Less and Channel 4’s Sugar Rush, to glean her top five foods for stronger, healthier nails.
Your nails can thank us later…
Lucy recommends having a handful of almonds each day because they are high in Vitamin E, a vitamin that is vital when it comes to maintaing healthy nails.
“Vitamin E, known as the beauty vitamin, obviously helps to protect cells from oxidative damage and one portion of of almonds (23 almonds) contains 60% of your daily needs of vitamin E.”
Almonds are also high in zinc which is the key to healthy and strong nails. If you have a plant-based diet Lucy says it’s even more important that you actively introduce zinc into your diet.
“A lot of the zinc in our diets is from things like seafood and meat so if you start reducing your intake of seafood and meat, making sure that you have enough zinc elsewhere in your diet is essential for nail health.”
2. Whole-grain cereal
Another great source of zinc, Lucy recommends starting off your day with a whole-grain cereal. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day after all…
“Nuts like almonds are high in zinc so a fantastic snack to have on a daily basis, you can also get it from whole grain cereals.”
Protein is so important to good nail health. Lucy says: “Nails are made of a really tough protein called Keratin that is exactly the same as your hair. So protein is really important, you need all those amino acids to create all of those protein based cells in our body and that includes our nails.”
When we’re lacking protein our nails become brittle and discoloured so try incorporating eggs into your diet. They are a high source of protein and you can have them morning, noon or night!
“One of the key nutrients in terms of keeping your nails supple is actually fat. So a specific type of essential fatty acid called linoleic acid, you would get that from things like oily fish but you also get it in many of the healthy oils we’re trying to increase in our diets – olive oil, rapeseed oil, avocados and of course nuts.”
Lucy says she spends a lot of her time “trying to pull people back from low fat diets and making sure they are focusing on healthy fats and getting enough essential fatty acids in their diet”.
So, to help prevent your nails from becoming brittle and breaking, step up the amount of oily fish in your diet (or avocados if you’re plant-based).
According to Lucy hydration is key to “beauty boosting from within”. For both your skin and nails you should have eight glasses of water a day, which includes the water in your tea and coffee!