Healthy nails are strong, smooth and pink. Nails are made up of protein called keratin, and grow at an average rate of one millimeter in a week. It takes almost 5 to 6 months for the whole nail to grow, if you lose the nail for any reason. Often the state of your health can be known from state of your nails.
Nails are not just object of beauty but they cover the dorsal surface of the distal phalanges of fingers and toes. They protect the fingertips from trauma and injuries. Like every part of body, nails too require nutrients for its healthy growth. But, body prioritizes its nutrient distribution and although the immune system and other tissues are first affected by nutrient deficiencies, the nail growth and health can be a long term indicator of dietary inadequacies.
Although the reason is not known, the nails grow faster in summer and in the hand that works more than the other. The growth of fingernails is fast as compared to the toenails.
Causes Of Fingernails Not Growing
Normally the fingernails grow faster in children, but with aging and diseases, which decrease the flow of blood, nail growth can get affected.
- There are several reasons for slow growth of nails. One of the most common reasons for retarded growth is nail biting. Nail biting can cause cuticles to bleed. If the cuticles are not healthy, the nail may not grow as it should.
- Injury to the nails can often affect its growth. The nail may get separated from the nail bed after an injury. It does not get reattached once it is separated. For the new nail to grow, it may take 3 to 5 months.
- Infection, especially fungal infection can damage to nail and nail bed. It takes a longtime time for the nail to grow to normal size when a person is suffering from fungal infection of nail.
- Side effects of certain medicines can lead to splitting, and fragmentation of nail. Particularly chemotherapy and anti-malarial medicines are known to slow down the growth of fingernails.
- Thin spoon shaped nails especially of fingers is characteristic of iron and zinc deficiency. The nails may also become brittle and fall off. Nails take longer time to grow with these deficiencies.
- Healthy nail growth may be a problem in people who have to work frequently with water and detergents.
Vitamins And Minerals Healthy For Nail Growth
- Biotin: It is a member of vitamin B group and is considered to be a best nutrient for nail growth. Egg is the rich source of biotin. It is also rich in protein. Deficiency of any one or both can slow down the growth of nails. Eat foods that are rich in biotin.
- Vitamin B12: Sufficient amount of vitamin B12 helps the nail to grow faster. Vitamin B12 deficiency may lead to dry and brittle nails which may break. Vitamin B12 is present in certain foods such as eggs, cheese, fish, crabs, liver etc. It is also available in supplementary form.
- Zinc: The mineral zinc is one of the main nutrients for healthy nails. Eat foods that are rich in zinc such as peanuts, seafood, wheat germ, pumpkin seeds, cocoa and chocolate, beans, mushrooms etc.
- Iron: Iron deficiency can make nails brittle and slowdown its growth. Iron is present in foods such as liver, fish, lean meat, green leafy vegetables, nuts and beans. Supplementary iron may be required if the deficiency is severe.
- Vitamin C: Lack of vitamin C causes hangnails. Eat fruits containing vitamin C. All citrus fruits are rich source of vitamin C. Besides, vitamin C is essential for iron absorption from the gut.
Though too much of immersion in water may not be healthy for nails, moisturizing it with water or any other moisturizer is beneficial for healthy nails. While doing work which may damage the nails, wear protective gloves.