In the quest for healthy nails, booking the occasional manicure won't cut it. The foundation of their natural strength, length, and shininess lies in your diet. Take it from nutritionist Ali Heller, who says the amount of nutrient-dense food that you eat impacts pretty much everything—including your beauty routine
"When it comes to healthy hair, skin, and nails, specific ingredients are less important than getting a variety of nutrient-dense foods in your diet," she says. "Particularly, make sure to consume adequate protein, mono and polyunsaturated fatty acids (especially omega-3s), and foods high in antioxidants to protect against oxidative damage, which our skin is exposed to constantly." Doing this will improve your hair, skin, and nails from the inside out, which is ideal, yes?
This is why we asked Heller, along with nutritionist Isabel Smith, to name the specific foods you should eat to bolster and protect your nails (because healthy nails matter). Keep reading to the see the 10 foods that they recommend!
Smith says animal protein, like lean meat, can massively benefit your nails. Aside from the obvious protein that it contains, (which, by the way, Heller calls the "the building blocks" of nails), it also offers your body zinc and important vitamins. "Zinc is key for hair, nails, and skin," Smith says.
Looks like mom was right (again). Leafy green vegetables have a large percentage of magnesium and B vitamins (specifically biotin), which are "both key for hair and nails." Biotin's hair, skin, and nail benefits are well-documented. Almost every beauty supplement on the market contains some form of the vitamin.
Hum Nutrition Killer Nails Capsules ($20)
Almonds aren't just filling and delicious; they also provide you with magnesium, says Smith. This element has been shown to benefit nails, specifically by smoothing their texture. This is important because smooth nails are shiny nails, and shiny nails are healthy nails.
Heller notes fish, particularly salmon, as a natural nail-booster. It contains mono and polyunsaturated fatty acids, "especially omega-3s," which have been shown to calm inflammation and dryness in the nail bed.
Smith is all for eating eggs for nail health, too. She says they contain a large amount of biotin—you know, the B vitamin that we established is in every single hair, nails, and skin supplement out there. Apparently, that's for good reason, since she deems this vitamin "key for nails."
If you're not into eggs, then maybe you're into… oysters? It's worth a shot, as people seem to either love them or hate them; there is no in-between. Heller notes that they're also incredibly rich in zinc, which contributes to those healthy, shiny nails we all long for.
Heller says that including berries in your diet will provide your body with antioxidants. These antioxidants will protect against the oxidative damage that can result from things like car exhaust, smog, and other pollutants we come across daily. If you're a city dweller, like us, and fear your exposure to pollutants might be prematurely aging you, try also drinking green tea and eating myriad other colorful fruits (and veggies), which are chock-full of those good-for-hair, -skin, and -nails antioxidants.
Tazo Zen Green Tea ($3)
If you're a strict vegetarian, and the previous recommendations of meat, fish, and seafood just won't cut it for you, fear not. You can reap similar benefits (and results) from plant-based sources like walnuts, Heller says. Oh, and flaxseeds, too. So next time you're whipping up a green smoothie or preparing overnight oats, try sprinkling a few of these in; your nails will thank you.
Keeping with the nut theme here, Heller recommends including Brazil nuts into your diet. They're another type of food that's rich in important minerals, specifically selenium. Plus, they're 100% vegan and vegetarian.
We know—water isn't a food. But according to Heller, "besides eating a varied nutrient-rich diet, the best thing you can do for your hair, skin, and nails is to stay hydrated!" So grab your favorite water bottle (our's happens to be the BKR 1-Liter Water Bottle, $45, which is BPA- and phthalate-free).
Bkr 1 Liter Water Bottle ($45)
Next up, read all about the "brain diet," or the best foods for a healthy brain!