These Vitamins For Nails Will Make Them Longer and Stronger

Say "so long" to broken, little nails.

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You make think the quality of your nails comes from how you treat them. And while that's true, your nails' strength and appearance are also impacted by your diet and whether or not you take in vitamins for nails.

“Healthy hair, skin and nails come from within," Stephanie Gray, D.N.P., M.S., A.R.N.P., a doctorally-prepared functional medicine nurse practitioner and owner of Integrative Health and Hormone Clinic in Hiawatha, Iowa, tells Landcruisers. "Our outward skin health—including our nails—is often a reflection of what is happening inside the body. This is why eating inflammatory foods, excess sugar and caffeine, and consuming toxins isn’t healthy for our nails."

Just like your hair, your nails are made of keratin, which is built with protein. That means if you’re low in protein, your body will use what it has for essential functions rather than growing longer, stronger nails.

So be sure to include enough of the macronutrient protein in your diet, and consider your micronutrient consumption as well. These vitamins for stronger, longer nails have been proven help support the body’s protein utilization. Just remember: “If you're not deficient, supplementing is not going to improve nail health,” Suzanne Dixon, R.D., a registered dietitian with The Mesothelioma Center in Orlando, Florida, tells Landcruisers/

Read on for the best vitamins for nails, plus the recommended daily allowance (RDA) and the top food sources for each.

Calcium
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RDA for adult women: 1,000 mg

Best food sources: Yogurt, mozzarella cheese, canned sardines, yogurt, cheddar cheese.

It’s time to bone up on this mineral that fuels many crucial metabolic activities.

“Calcium is better known for its assistance with bone growth, but it’s also important for nail health," Gray says. "Stunted growth as well as white dots on the nails can be signs of a deficiency."

Don’t do dairy? Get your calcium fix from fortified soy milk or orange juice, tofu, turnip greens, kale, and bok choy.

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Iron
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RDA for adult women: 18 mg

Best food sources: Fortified breakfast cereal, oysters, white beans, dark chocolate, beef liver. 

“Although iron is a mineral, not a vitamin, iron deficiency is among the most common causes of nail abnormalities in women," Dixon says. "Weak, brittle, spoon-shaped nails are a sign of iron deficiency."

A lack of iron (also one of the top vitamins for energy) may also be related to low protein. Amp up your intake of both with chickpeas, lentils, almonds, tofu, and shellfish.

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Vitamin B12
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RDA for adult women: 2.4 mcg

Best food sources: Clams, beef liver, nutritional yeast, trout, salmon. 

In addition to aiding in iron absorption, B12 is necessary for red blood cell creation and aids in metabolic processes.

“The vertical ridges in nails tend to become more pronounced with age, but failure to get adequate vitamin B12 can worsen ridges and weaken nails,” Dixon says. 

You might also notice a bluish hue in your nails if you’re shy in this vitamin.

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Folate
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RDA for adult women: 400 mcg

Best food sources: Beef liver, spinach, black-eyed peas, asparagus, brussels sprouts.

Similarly, Dixon says “folate is critical for red blood cell formation. Red blood cells, in turn, deliver oxygen to support new cell formation in the nail matrix."

While it doesn’t directly impact nail health, feeding your body with enough folate can help foster strong nail growth (and help reduce risk for birth defects, if you’re trying to get pregnant).

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Biotin
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RDA for adult women: 30 mcg

Best food sources: Beef liver, eggs, salmon, pork, ground beef.

Biotin aids in keratin formation, which is the common protein shared by your nails, hair, and skin. 

“A 2018 review concluded there is ‘promising’ evidence for biotin and nail health, yet despite how commonly it's recommended, we aren’t quite sure how it actually works to help,” Dixon explains. “Dry, cracked brittle nails can be a sign of deficiencies of this essential nutrients.” 

But even if you beef up your diet or add a biotin supplement, don’t expect instant results from this vitamin for nails. 

“If you are deficient, it may take up to six months for your nails to show the benefits of supplementing as they are growing out,” Dixon says.

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Vitamin A
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Vitamin A is critical for cell growth and differentiation, the process by which cells become specialized for unique purposes in the body (say, as a muscle cell, a blood cell, or a liver cell).

“Cells in the nail matrix, which are specialized, require vitamin A to remain healthy, replace themselves rapidly and push the actual nail—made of the protein keratin—forward and up,” Dixon says. “Failure to get adequate vitamin A can cause thin, weak nails with ridges in them. True vitamin A deficiency can lead to brittle, weak, grayish-colored nails with vertical lines and horizontal lines called ‘Beau's lines.’”

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