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What Your Nails Can Tell You About Your Health

The shape, texture and color of your natural nails act as a window into your body, and while some nail symptoms are harmless, others can be indicative of chronic diseases, nutrient deficiencies and even cancer. investigated several of these symptoms and it is worth knowing what warning signs to look for when examining your nails

If your nails are thick, crumbly and yellow, a fungal infection could be to blame. Dry, cracked or brittle nails can result from lifestyle factors, such as if you have your hands and feet immersed in water on a regular basis. Nail polish and low humidity can also lead to dry nails. Keep in mind that these are not the only causes. Cracking and splitting can also be caused by a fungal infection or thyroid disease, particularly hypothyroidism. Brittle nails may also be due to a deficiency in vitamins A and C or the B vitamin biotin.

Horizontal ridges, also known as Beau's lines, may also be due to psoriasis, uncontrolled diabetes, circulatory disease, or severe zinc deficiency. Vertical ridges are typically a normal sign of aging and are not cause for concern. They may become more prominent as you get older. In some cases, nail ridges may be due to nutrient deficiencies, including vitamin B12 and magnesium.

Black streaks or painful growths on your nail warrant an immediate trip to your physician, as they may be due to melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. If your nails are mostly white with a narrow pink strip at the top, known as Terry's nails, it could be a sign of liver disease, congestive heart failure, kidney failure, or diabetes. Sometimes Terry's nails may also be due to aging.

If you eat a balanced, whole-food diet like the one described in my nutrition plan, you're probably giving your body more than adequate amounts of the vitamins and minerals it needs to function. If not (and this applies to the majority of the U.S. population), there's a good chance your body is lacking in important nutrients. Not only can this lead to chronic diseases, but your nail (and hair and skin) health will also suffer.

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