What we eat often shows on different parts of our body. Yes, extra body fat means you have been eating a lot of unhealthy foods. But if there is a deficiency of a vitamin or essential nutrients, your body parts will find a way to alert you about it. For instance, vitamin B12 deficiency can be easily spotted on your nails. It’s true that nails can tell you if you need to eat more foods rich in vitamin B12. But do nails only give warning signs about vitamin B12 deficiency? Or there are positive effects of including vitamin B12 in your diet for your nails?
Know the benefits of vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin and is routinely required in our daily diet, says Varsha Gorey, senior clinical dietitian, Apollo Hospitals, Navi Mumbai.
You need vitamin B12 due to these reasons:
1. Energy production
Vitamin B12 plays a vital role in the metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins and fats. It helps to convert these macronutrients into usable energy, which is essential for the proper functioning of our body.
2. Red blood cell formation
Vitamin B12 is necessary for the synthesis of red blood cells in our bone marrow, the expert tells Health Shots. Adequate levels of vitamin B12 are crucial for preventing anemia, as it helps in the production of healthy red blood cells, which carry oxygen throughout the body.
3. DNA synthesis
Vitamin B12 is involved in the synthesis of DNA, the genetic material that is present in all our cells. This is particularly important for cell growth, development and repair.
4. Heart health
Vitamin B12, along with other B vitamins, helps to regulate homocysteine levels in the blood. Elevated levels of homocysteine are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases, says Gorey. By helping to maintain optimal homocysteine levels, B12 supports heart health.
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5. Bone health
Adequate levels of vitamin B12 have been linked to better bone mineral density, which is important for preventing osteoporosis and maintaining strong bones.
Signs of vitamin B12 deficiency on nails
Lack of vitamin B12 can affect your nails and the signs of its deficiency are –
1. Brittle nails
One of the common signs of vitamin B12 deficiency is dry and brittle nails. The lack of B12 can lead to changes in the nail structure, making them more susceptible to splitting, cracking and peeling.
2. Pale or yellowish nails
Insufficient B12 levels can cause a reduction in red blood cell production, leading to anemia. Anemia can manifest in pale or yellowish discolouration of the nails due to decreased oxygen supply to the nail bed.
In some cases of severe vitamin B12 deficiency, a condition called koilonychia can occur, where the nails become concave or spoon-shaped.
4. Blue nails
In severe cases of vitamin B12 deficiency, nails may appear bluish due to reduced oxygenation of tissues resulting from anemia.
Vitamin B12 for nail growth
Vitamin B12 is essential for overall nail health, as it plays a crucial role in cell division and growth, including the cells responsible for nail development. However, the rate of nail health including texture, paleness and brittleness is influenced by various factors, and B12 deficiency is just one of many potential factors that can affect nail health and growth, says the expert. Nail growth is mostly determined by genetics, age, hormonal factors and overall health. In a person with inadequate levels of vitamin B12, correcting the deficiency through supplementation or dietary adjustments may improve overall nail health. But it may not necessarily lead to a significant increase in nail growth beyond what is considered normal for that person.
Tips to keep nails strong
Your nails can grow well if they are strong and don’t break easily. Here are some ways to keep your nails strong:
Drink water to not only keep your body hydrated, but also your nails. Well-hydrated nails are less prone to brittleness and breakage, says the expert.
2. Maintain a balanced diet
Ensure to have a well-balanced diet with essential nutrients, including vitamins and minerals like biotin, vitamin E, zinc and iron, which also contribute to nail health.
3. Biotin-rich foods
Biotin, a B-vitamin, is essential for healthy nail growth. So, have foods like eggs, almonds, peanuts, avocados, sweet potatoes and whole grains.
4. Protein-rich foods
Nails are made up of a protein called keratin, so including protein-rich foods like lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, lentils and dairy products in your diet can help strengthen your nails and promote growth.
Have all this along with vitamin B12-rich foods to have strong and healthy nails.