Getting great-looking nails starts way before you break out the nail polish: You can improve the way yours look just by eating certain nutrient-rich foods. In fact, doctors often use nails as an indicator of overall health, says dermatologist Dendy Engelman, an assistant professor of dermatology at New York Medical College. Since your body sends nutrients to your vital organs first, your nails often are the last to get the good stuff—which means if you're malnourished, it’s going to show up on your fingertips.
Even if you have a healthy diet, that doesn't mean that your nails will be free from problems like brittleness or a glacial rate of growth, says Engelman. After all, your genetics influence your tips, too. That said, chowing down on foods rich in nutrients that nails love can help get them in their best shape. Here, check out seven foods that will boost your nail growth and strength so you can get your prettiest mani ever.
This refrigerator staple is full of protein, which is key to growing strong nails, says Engelman. In fact, the nail plate (the hard see-through portion of your nail) is made of protein, says dermatologist Chris Adigun, assistant professor of dermatology at New York University. Eggs are also rich in B vitamins that are components of biotin, which has been shown to help boost nail growth, says Engelman.
In order for your body to put the protein you eat to use, you need an amino acid called cysteine, which is found in this super-common vegetable, says Adigun.
This delicious pink fish has lots of protein and contains zinc, which helps your body absorb the protein you consume. It also contains the nutrients selenium and copper, which aid in the production of the collagen that can boost nail growth, says Engelman.
Eating healthy fats like coconut oil enhance your body's ability to absorb nutrients, says Engelman. This ingredient also contains vitamins A, D, E, and K, all of which contribute to nail strength.
Like eggs, chicken has lots of strength-building vitamin B and protein. Plus, this easy-to-find food contains zinc. These three nutrients create a trifecta for nail growth, says Engelman.
Eating spinach is a great idea for your overall health—and your nail health, says Engleman. That's because the dark green veggie has vitamin E, iron, B vitamins, folate, and vitamin A, all of which benefit nail strength and growth.
You might want to start thinking about replacing your stash of almonds with these babies. They're packed with collagen-building selenium, zinc, vitamin B, and vitamin E.
Munching on these oh-so healthy foods will set you up for healthy and strong nails, but since it takes about six months to regrow an entire nail, keep in mind that you might not see any difference for at least three months, says Adigun.