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Does a Vitamin Deficiency Cause Yellow Toenails?

author image Michelle Kulas
Michelle Kulas worked in the health-care field for 10 years, serving as a certified nurses' assistant, dental assistant and dental insurance billing coordinator. Her areas of expertise include health and dental topics, parenting, nutrition, homeschooling and travel.
Does a Vitamin Deficiency Cause Yellow Toenails?
Dark nail polish may stain your toenails yellow. Photo Credit Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images

The condition of your fingernails and toenails can be an indicator of health problems in some cases. Yellow toenails could be caused by fungus, a bacterial infection or nail polish staining, but they are typically not caused by a vitamin deficiency. Deficiency in vitamin H, or biotin, may cause problems with the toenails, as can diabetes and other health issues. If you notice a difference in your toenails, especially if you have diabetes or if they are painful, see your doctor.

Nail Fungus

One common cause of yellow toenails is nail fungus. This condition is not caused by a vitamin deficiency but by a weakened immune system, potentially caused by a poor diet, which could make you more prone to developing nail fungus. Fungus grows on toenails because the area tends to stay moist, especially if you usually wear socks and shoes. Symptoms include discoloration and crumbling, thickened and dull nails. Home remedies may work, and they include soaking in vinegar and rubbing medicated ointment on your nails. Anti-fungal sprays are unlikely to be effective, so if you suspect nail fungus, see your doctor for treatment.

Biotin Deficiency

Deficiency in vitamin H, or biotin, is unlikely to cause yellow toenails, but your nails may show the effects of your deficiency. Biotin helps keep your nails in good condition. Taking antibiotics or anti-convulsants for a long period of time can cause a deficiency. Not having enough biotin in your body can cause thin, splitting and brittle finger and toenails. Dietary sources of this vitamin include eggs, sardines and nuts. If you suspect a deficiency, you can also get biotin from a B-complex multivitamin. Do not take any supplements without talking to your doctor first.

For Diabetics

Any changes in your toenails must be reported to your doctor right away if you have diabetes. You are more prone to foot troubles, including yellow or cracked toenails, if you have diabetes, because the disease can cause problems with your nerves and circulation. See your podiatrist four times per year or at the frequency that he suggests. In the meantime, if you see yellowing or thickening of your toenails, call for a prompt evaluation.

Good Foot Care

To prevent yellowed toenails, practice good foot hygiene. Wash your feet daily and dry your toenails and between your toes carefully. Apply anti-fungal food powder if desired before putting on socks and shoes. Change your socks often, and allow your shoes to rest and dry out for a day between wearings to prevent fungal infections. If you have yellow toenails from nail polish staining, it should resolve itself as your toenails grow out.

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