Long, strong fingernails are not just aesthetically pleasing -- they're also an indication of good health and nutrition. Sure, you can use topical creams and strengthening nail polishes to help your nails grow, but the best way to have good nails is to start from within. Fingernails need proper nutrition to grow, and calcium is one of the minerals that can help. Milk is high in calcium, but you do need to watch the fat. You don't want to solve one problem just to create another.
Be Patient With Nail Growth
Your fingernails are made of keratin, which is also the main component of hair. They grow about 1/10th of an inch every month. It can take four to six months for a fingernail to completely regrow from the cuticle, according to the University of Southern California. Getting enough calcium from drinking low-fat or nonfat milk can support healthy nail growth, but it will not make your nails grow any faster.
Nourish Your Nails From Within
Your bones and teeth need calcium. But the mineral also helps your muscles, nerves and heart function. The best way to get calcium is from foods, but milk alone won’t guarantee long, strong fingernails, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. You need other vitamins and minerals to facilitate calcium absorption, so make sure you are also getting enough vitamin D, vitamin K, magnesium and phosphorous.
Eat Your Green Leafies
Milk is not the only dietary source of calcium. Cheese and yogurt also have calcium. Choose low-fat varieties to keep your heart healthy. Along with your milk, have calcium-rich vegetables like bok choy, broccoli, cabbage and leafy dark greens. Or snack on high-calcium Brazil nuts and hazelnuts. Other sources are canned salmon, oysters and sardines.
Take Care of Your Nails
Drinking enough milk is only the first step in growing your nails. Keep them filed straight, with slightly rounded corners, because this is the strongest shape. Protect your hands with rubber gloves when you're cleaning or handling harsh chemicals, recommends Columbia Health's GoAskAlice website. Even with a calcium-rich diet, your nails will break if you use them for jobs they weren't meant to do. Treat your nails gently while the calcium does its work.