Are you a frequent hand-washer? Whilst good hygiene is essential for preventing infectious disease, your nails are not quite so fond of such regular contact with water. They end up becoming softer, weaker, and more brittle.
To reduce the damage, choose a gentle, moisturising soap and think about wearing gloves whenever possible: to do the washing up, households tasks, etc.
It’s been scientifically proven that zinc helps to maintain healthy nails(1-2). Which foods contain this important trace-element? Oysters, crab, lobster and clams all have a high zinc content, as does meat – opt for calves’ liver, or shoulder of pork. Eggs are also a good source, but if you don’t eat any animal-source foods, you can obtain zinc by regularly consuming sesame and pumpkin seeds, or cashew nuts.
To boost your zinc intake, you could also take a dietary supplement. The best option is one containing zinc orotate, a form of zinc with high bioavailability (for example, the product Zinc Orotate). There are also special formulations offering a combination of natural compounds good for the hair and nails (such as Hair & Nails Formula, rich in zinc, biotin, solubilised keratin, extract of bamboo, etc.)
For beautiful nails, don’t overdo the manicures. This advice may seem counter-intuitive given that your sessions at the manicurist are all about the aesthetic care of your nails, but invasive manicures can actually have the reverse effect.
Over-zealous cleaning of the dirt that gathers underneath your fingernails can cause a slight separation of the nail plate from the nail bed, providing an entry point for the growth of bacteria and fungi. So by all means clean your nails, but not to the point of damaging them!
The same goes for nail varnish and false nails. Use them from time to time, but be aware that your nails also need a breather, so make sure you regularly leave them ‘au naturel’.
Bilberries are known for promoting good visual acuity (3), but their benefits don’t stop there! Scientific studies have shown they’re also useful for nail and hair care(4).
To ensure an excellent intake of bilberries, you could opt for a supplement containing a bilberry extract with a high level of anthocyanosides, one of the fruit’s key active ingredients (such as Bilberry Extract, good for your eyes ... as well as your nails).
Nails that are poorly-hydrated can become ridged and brittle. To prevent that, you need to moisturise them by regularly applying an oil to the base of your nails such as sweet almond, argan, avocado or black seed (nigella). If you don’t have any of these to hand, look in your kitchen cabinet: olive oil or sesame oil are excellent substitutes!
By doing this regularly, you’ll be rewarded with stronger, tougher nails, and softer cuticles. Another benefit of applying oil is that it helps to activate microcirculationaround your nails, helping them to grow faster.
Do your nails have a yellow tinge? Do you routinely apply nail polish to hide this unsightly coloration? Yellowing of the nails can be caused by a number of factors, including cigarettes. The good news is that by stopping smoking, your nails will gradually return to their normal colour.
Having said that, yellow nails could be a sign of underlying disease: psoriasis, diabetes, thyroid issues or jaundice. So be sure to consult your doctor to rule out any serious health problems.
Selenium is a trace-element which helps protect cells against oxidative stress. It also plays a part in normal immune system function and in maintaining healthy nails (5-7).
Which foods should you eat for an adequate intake of selenium? Brazil nuts are a good source, as are fish, sea food, and chicken... Another way of boosting your intake is to take a supplement containing L-selenomethionine, an organic form of selenium that’s particularly well-absorbed by the body.
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