- Nails are an extension of our skin and comprised of protective protein
- Similar to skin, nails can provide a visible indicator of our internal health
- Read on for ways we can improve upon nail health and overall skin health
Did you know that it takes about 6 to 9 months for a nail to completely replace itself? Our nails grow an average of 2 to 3 millimeters (mm) per month! Dr. Yoon explains, on average, finger nails grow about 3 mm and toe nails grow 1 mm per month until age 25, then this slows down about 0.5% every year so that by the time you hit age 85, your finger nails are now growing about a mm less at the rate of 2mm a month - amusing, huh?
The biologically fascinating truth about our nails is that they are an extension of our skin. They are comprised of multiple layers of keratin, which is a protective protein. In a similar way as our skin, our nails can provide a visible indicator of the internal health of a person. When we are deficient in key nutrients, such as iron or zinc, our nails will be there to warn us. Such warnings can come by experiencing dry or brittle nails, discoloration, or the lack of nail growth. Stress, in addition to lack of nutrients, can directly influence the health of our nails. In my experience, I’ve noticed that under times of stress, my nails give way under the pressure and break off.
So what are some ways that we can improve upon the health of our nails?
Protect your nails when they are weak - I have found that when I apply a clear vitamin E infused polish, it helps the immediate breakage stop. Also, the frequent washing of our hands, while imperative for hygiene, unfortunately removes the natural oils that keep our nails flexible and strong. Keeping your hands moisturized with a hand cream will also help protect your nails, especially when they are weak.
Use the occasional oil treatment - a very simple spa treatment you can give your nails is an oil soak. Take some olive oil, briefly warm it up and let your nails sit in the oil for up to 15 minutes. This will allow for the oil to penetrate deeply into the nails and the skin around your nails. This is also such a great practice for unwinding in the evening because you can’t do anything with your hands! Take this opportunity to practice breathing exercises and resting. During the day, you can also carry around a dropper with vitamin E and as desired, massage the oil onto your nails.
Focus on enhancing the quality of your nutrition intake - important nutrients that come to mind when I think about nail health are omega-3 fatty acids which you can source from fish, healthy fats from foods like avocados and biotin (a b-complex vitamin that helps metabolize protein-building amino acids) from spinach. To help your nails get the specific vitamins and minerals needed to grow strong, consider speaking with a health professional to determine what your current levels are so that you can set up a plan to improve where you have deficiencies.
Monitor your stress - by now if you’ve read our articles here at SeoulofSkin, you’ll know that we deeply believe in the inter-connectedness of the mind, soul and body. Our skin and our nails reflect the condition of these three elements of the human being. Building practices in your daily life to improve how you deal with stress will have positive ripple effects along your wellness journey.