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Does the White on Your Fingernails Mean That You Don't Have Enough Calcium in Your Body?

author image Tammy Dray
Tammy Dray has been writing since 1996. She specializes in health, wellness and travel topics and has credits in various publications including Woman's Day, Marie Claire, Adirondack Life and Self. She is also a seasoned independent traveler and a certified personal trainer and nutrition consultant. Dray is pursuing a criminal justice degree at Penn Foster College.
Does the White on Your Fingernails Mean That You Don't Have Enough Calcium in Your Body?
Woman's fingernails Photo Credit: Tetiana Zbrodko/iStock/Getty Images

White marks on the nails can appear in a number of forms and sizes. The most common belief is that these white spots indicate a calcium deficiency, but this is simply not true. Spots appear for a number of reasons and whether they indicate a serious problem or not depends on their shape and number. If you suspect an underlying health problem, talk to your doctor.

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Medical Definition

The medical term for white spots on your fingernails is leukonychia. Leukonychia can manifest in a number of ways: white spots, horizontal or vertical bands, and sometimes a total whitening of the nails. The spots can appear on just a few nails or on all of them, and can appear on both fingers and toes.

Mineral Deficiency

White spots on nails don’t indicate a calcium deficiency, but they could indicate a zinc deficiency. The medical team at NetDoctor recommends taking between 20 and 40 mg of zinc to help with a possible deficiency. Talk to your doctor first if you have a medical condition or are taking other medication.

Other Causes

A large number of conditions can cause white spots on the nails. Examples include infectious diseases, herpes, malaria, fungal infections and even arsenic poisoning. Most cases of white spots are caused by trauma, such as hitting the nail or wearing very tight shoes for long periods of time. White spots could also indicate that your body is fighting a bacterial infection.


The easiest thing you can do for white spots is just wait for the nail to grow out, which will take about six weeks. Call your doctor if you experience other problems, such as pain, clubbed or distorted nails, or a bluish tint. These might indicate a more serious medical condition that your doctor will need to treat.

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