Minerals are an essential dietary component; without them, you may experience hair and nail problems. Deficiencies in certain minerals can lead to thinning strands and weak, brittle or spotted nails. While taking these minerals is not likely to thicken naturally fine hair and nails, meeting the recommended dietary allowances, or RDA, can help ensure that your strands and nails grow at their very best. Discuss any dietary changes with your doctor before making them.
Without the mineral iodine, your thyroid cannot function properly, and this organ is responsible for growth and development in every area of your body. Therefore, an iodine deficiency can lead to a variety of hair and nail problems, including slow hair growth and dry skin, hair and nails. You need 120 to 150 mcg of iodine a day, and you can get this by using iodized table salt, as well as consuming items like shellfish, brown kelp, garlic, lima beans, spinach and turnip greens. You also can consume it as sodium iodide in a multivitamin, mineral or kelp supplement.
The cell division in your hair follicles and, therefore, the growth of your strands, depends on zinc. This mineral also helps protect the cell membranes in your hair, nails and other areas from incurring damage from free radicals. Your immune system, growth, development and thyroid function all require zinc to perform properly as well. If you do not get enough zinc, you may experience hair loss and white spots on your fingernails, among other problems. The RDA for zinc is 8 mg for women and 11 mg for men. Foods, such as legumes, miso, poultry red meat, crab, tofu, mushrooms and sunflower seeds are all good sources of zinc, and it is available in supplement form as well.
For your body to make use of the iodine you consume, you need to get an adequate amount of selenium. This indirectly helps promote healthy skin and nails. However, be aware that consuming too much selenium can result in a condition known as selenosis, which can cause hair loss and nail problems, among other symptoms. However, this condition is rare and can be avoided as long as you do not exceed the RDA or begin consuming supplements without first discussing them with a doctor. Adults need 55 mcg of selenium a day. Brewer's yeast, wheat germ, liver, garlic, eggs and grains are all good food sources of this mineral.
While minerals are essential for hair and nail health, they can interact with each other as well as with your medications, so you must discuss them with a doctor prior to consuming them. If you believe you have a mineral deficiency, talk to your doctor and tell him about the symptoms you are having. Similarly, if you have recently noticed a change in the thickness or texture of your hair or nails, seek medical attention.