Toenails, like all the other nails of the body, are made up of a tough protein called keratin and apart from adding to the aesthetics of an individual, healthy toenails also indicate the overall health of the person. Abnormalities of toenails include changes in the color, shape, textures or thickness and may occur due to injury, infections and underlying conditions such as kidney disease, liver disease and thyroidism. Certain vitamins and natural supplements may help maintain healthy nails.
Video of the Day
Biotin or vitamin B7 is a component of the B complex vitamins and plays an important role in various metabolic processes of the body. Apart from preventing biotin deficiency related to pregnancy, malnutrition, and rapid weight loss, synthetic supplements of this vitamin are also used to treat brittle toenails, MedlinePlus reports. The supplements are administered orally and are well tolerated when used at recommended dosages. A balanced diet rich in foods such as milk, liver, eggs, legumes and nuts can also help overcome biotin deficiency and promote healthy nails.
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble antioxidant found in foods such as wheat germ, corn, olives and nuts. It can neutralize free radicals that are formed as a result of various metabolic processes in the body. According to LifeExtension, several studies have shown that vitamin E can be used to treat yellow nail syndrome, which is characterized by marked thickening and yellow to yellow-green discoloration of the nails, including toenails, and is often associated with heart or lung disease.
Apart from dietary sources, vitamin E can also be obtained from synthetic supplements that can be purchased over-the-counter. However, it's important to talk to a doctor before taking these supplements as chronic overuse can increase the chances of death.
Reduced intake of iron can lead to iron-deficiency anemia, which leads to a decrease in the number of red blood cells in the body. Deficiency of iron can also affect the cells that help form the nails, thereby leading to brittle nails. Iron supplements and iron-rich foods such as eggs, fish, legumes, meats and raisins are recommended, along with vitamin C which enhances the ability of the digestive system to absorb iron.
Brittle and weak toenails can also occur due to calcium deficiency and may be avoided by eating a diet rich in calcium such as dark, green vegetables, dairy products and tuna. Calcium supplements can also be taken along with vitamin D supplements to maintain optimum levels of calcium in the blood.