well-groomed female foot with a french pedicureHave you ever really looked at your finger and toe nails? Have you noticed subtle variations in the color – a white spot here, a rosy tinge there? Or perhaps you’ve noticed bumps or rippling on the surface of your nails. These nail abnormalities are important to notice because they can give you clues about your nails’ health.

Your nails are made up of six layers of keratin, a hard, strong protein. The nail plate is the hard, protective layer you see when you look at your fingers or toes. The nail bed is found under the nail plate and anchored to it. The nail bed is a layer of sensitive skin. The skin that surrounds the three sides of the nail plate is known as the nail folds. The whitish, half-moon-shaped area found at the base of the nail is called the lunula, while the tissue overlapping the nail at the base is the cuticle.

Your nail grows from the matrix, an area under the cuticle. Every month your fingernails grow 2 to 3 millimeters, while your toenails grow at about 1 millimeter. However, growth is usually faster during the summer months.

What you eat can affect your finger and toe nails’ health. Examine your nails. If you notice any of the following abnormalities, you may have a vitamin or mineral deficiency:  

  • Ridges along the nail bed – B-complex vitamin deficiency, especially biotin.
  • Dry, brittle nails – Calcium deficiency.
  • Dry, dull nails – Vitamin A deficiency.
  • Hangnails – Folic acid and vitamin C deficiency.
  • Cracking – Omega-3 fatty acids deficiency.
  • Thin, concaved nail bed with raised ridges – Iron deficiency.
  • White marks on the nails – Zinc deficiency.

To keep your finger and toe nails healthy, you should take a daily multivitamin and eat a balanced diet to supply them with the nutrients they need. If you’re not sure exactly what foods you should eat, follow these tips to get the vitamins and minerals you need:

  • B-vitamins – Organ meats (liver and kidneys), fish, cheese, yogurt, milk, eggs, mushrooms, beans, avocadoes, bananas, nuts, seeds and whole grains.
  • Vitamin A – Liver, beet greens, collard greens, carrots, squash and sweet potatoes.
  • Vitamin C – Citrus fruits, red peppers, broccoli, dark greens, kiwis and strawberries.
  • Calcium – All dairy foods, dark green leafy vegetables, almonds, beans and sardines.
  • Folic acid – Orange juice, beans, whole grains and green vegetables.
  • Biotin – Bananas, beans, cauliflower, eggs, lentils, peanuts and salmon.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids – Fatty fish (tuna, salmon, trout, mackerel and herring), flaxseeds, nuts, seeds and tofu.
  • Iron – Meat, beans, legumes, eggs and soy.
  • Zinc – Beef, pork, lamb, hard-boiled eggs, dairy products, and pumpkin seeds.

By increasing these nutrients in your diet, your nails will become healthier, growing stronger with a shine.

ezWalker® Performance Custom Orthotics Like Nutrition for Your Feet

Similar to how the right vitamins and minerals can keep your finger and toe nails healthy, ezWalker® Performance Custom Orthotics support the health of your feet. Biomechanically designed to guide your feet into better alignment, these custom orthotics provide your arches with the proper support they need while reducing stress and strain on your joints. When you don’t get enough of the right vitamins and minerals, your nails are at risk for imperfections. Similarly, when you walk with improper biomechanics of the foot, you can develop foot conditions like corns, bunions and plantar fasciitis. However, proactive use of ezWalker® custom orthotics can reduce your risk of developing these conditions and relieve any foot pain you may experience. So visit the WalkEZStore.com’s online shop to order your pair of ezWalker® Performance Custom Orthotics today.

Because … when your feet feel good, you feel good.® 

Photo credit: iStockphoto