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What Do Your Nails Say About Your Health?

December 7, 2013

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There is no denying that our bodies are truly amazing. Through the health and appearance of our external organs, like our skin, hair, and nails, our body can clue us in to the health of all of our internal organs, as well.

It’s pretty amazing when you think about it. Just one glance at your nails and you might be able detect a liver deficiency or find out just which vitamins and minerals your body needs more of! If you’re wondering how your internal health is holding up, check your nails. Some of these common nail conditions might provide clues.

Nail Pitting

Small grooves and depressions along the length of your nail is a condition know as nail pitting. Nail pitting is a common sign of the autoimmune disorder psoriasis. Of course, the red, dry and scaly patches that you see on your skin more commonly signify psoriasis. If you don’t have any other signs of psoriasis on your skin, but you are experiencing nail pitting, it could be a sign of the less common autoimmune disease known as Reiter’s syndrome, which causes hair loss. 


White vertical lines under the nail are a common sign of an injury to the base of the nail. Contrary to popular belief, those white lines, or milk lines as they are commonly called, are not the result of a calcium deficiency. So before you chug that glass of milk, take a deep breath and leave your nails alone. Eventually, the white mark will grow out and your nails will be back to normal. 

Nail Clubbing

If your nails curve slightly downward at the tips of your fingers, you could be experiencing nail clubbing. This condition usually develops over a long period of time, so it is more common in older people. Nail clubbing could be the result of low oxygen in your blood or a lung disorder. 

Brittle Nails

This common condition is no need for alarm! Brittle, dry, flaky, or cracking nails, although annoying and sometimes painful, are just a part of the natural aging process. This condition can be exasperated by over exposure to warm water and chemical cleaning supplies. If your nails are commonly brittle, try wearing gloves to do the dishes and rub lotion or coconut oil into your hands before you go to bed every night, especially in the winter months!

Spoon Nails

Spoon nails (or Koionychia) can show up in any level of severity. In the most severe cases, nails are very soft and curve up on the sides forming a spoon in the nail bed. In less extreme cases, nails are lightly curved up on the edges or exhibit vertical grooves across the nail. Spoon nails can be a sign of iron deficiency, anemia or a liver condition. If you are experiencing spoon nails, it’s best to consult your doctor to see what the best corrective course of action may be.

Beau’s Lines

This nail condition is easily distinguishable by deep vertical grooves in your nails. Beau’s Nails could be the result of an injury or a serious illness like pneumonia or measles that put stress on your body causing a disruption in nail growth. If you haven’t experienced an illness or injury, the grooves could be the result of a zinc deficiency. If this sounds like you, consider adding a zinc supplement to your daily health routine.

The good news is that you can improve many aspects of your health – and your nail appearance – simply by consuming more whole foods. Check out this list of 6 foods for healthy skin, hair, and nails that will enhance your beauty from the inside out!