Slow fingernail growth may indicate a vitamin deficiency. Incorporating key vitamins and minerals into your diet may speed up the growth while improving the overall strength and health of your nails and hair. Many herbal remedies have long been used for this same function, but their effectiveness is not scientifically proven.
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Many of the vitamins included in prenatal multivitamins improve nail growth and health; examples include vitamin H, or biotin, as well as folic acid and vitamin B-12. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, biotin may relieve symptoms of poor nail health, such as splitting or brittleness, and promote healthy growth. Folic acid is vital for general cell growth; as nails and hair grow relatively rapidly throughout life, they require plentiful folic acid. According to Health Services at Columbia, vitamin B-12 and folic acid, while regularly available in prenatal vitamins, are best taken individually if used expressly for nail growth.
In addition to vitamins, taking certain minerals can improve your nail health and growth. Magnesium, a vital mineral for various organs and life processes, is available in many nuts, soy products, whole grains, legumes, seaweed and some vegetables, fruits and seeds. One sign of a magnesium deficiency is poor nail health or slow nail growth. Calcium is another critical mineral for the growth of bones, cartilage and nails.
Herbs and Nail Growth
Modern and traditional practices of herbalism suggest the use of particular herbs to stimulate nail growth. Though studies are few and research inconclusive, horsetail's use for nail growth dates back to ancient Greek and Roman herbalism. The herb is a source of calcium, which may contribute to beneficial effects on the nails. Stinging nettles, when steeping in a tea, may also help nail growth, as they contain high quantities of silica and other helpful minerals.
Herbs and General Nail Health
Flaxseed oil, rich in omega-3 fatty acids, also may improve nail growth and overall health. The oil may relieve nail cracking, splitting, drying or brittleness. To relieve fungal problems around your fingernails, you might try green tea, cat's claw, reishi mushrooms, milk thistle or tea tree oil. The University of Maryland Medical Center cites all of them as traditional herbal supplements for nail health, though their use is not scientifically proven.