Vitamin Deficiencies & Spots on Finger Nails

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Do white spots on your nails mean you need more vitamins? (Image: bookzaa/iStock/Getty Images)

It's not uncommon to notice spots on your fingernails. They are called leukonychia, and they appear as small white spots or streaks on your nails. If you've been sick or haven't been eating well and you develop spots on your fingernails, you might wonder if they're caused by a vitamin deficiency.

What Causes Spots

The spots on your fingernails were probably caused by an injury you got months ago. If you injure your nail at the base, a white spot can show up weeks or months later as the nail grows out. It doesn't have to be a major injury; just banging your fingernail on the edge of a table could cause spots to appear. Since the spots don't show up until much later, you might not associate the injury with them. Occasionally, spots on your fingernails can indicate a minor infection or an allergic response to nail polish or other nail care products. Spots on your nails may also be a symptom of psoriasis or eczema, or a sign that your body is low in the mineral zinc

How to Get Rid of Spots

Unfortunately, the only way to get rid of spots on your fingernails is to let them grow out. You can try to prevent spots on your nails by being careful not to hit them on anything and cause a spot to form. If the spots on your fingernails really bother you, cover them with nail polish. Try eating more fish, poultry and whole-grain products if you suspect that your diet is low in zinc and causing the spots on your fingernails.

Signs of Vitamin Deficiencies

It can take months or years for vitamin deficiencies to cause symptoms. Once you develop symptoms, they tend to get worse the longer you have the deficiency. Symptoms include pale or yellowish skin, a swollen red tongue, weight loss and diarrhea. You may feel dizzy, confused, forgetful or irritable. Muscle weakness, fatigue and a feeling of being unsteady on your feet are also symptoms of vitamin deficiencies. Shortness of breath and numb or tingling feet or hands can also indicate a vitamin deficiency.

Avoiding Vitamin Deficiencies

Eating a well-balanced, healthful diet will help ensure that you get all the vitamins you need to stay healthy and avoid a vitamin deficiency. Eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dairy and proteins. If you're concerned that you may have a vitamin deficiency, talk to your doctor. He may suggest that you take supplements.

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