Apples For Strong Nails

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Introduction

The appearance of a strong and healthy nail can explain the overall health of an individual. Poor nutrition and bad habits can cause some nail problems affecting overall nail health. This article will look at the role of diet in nail health and how a healthy and well-balanced diet is necessary for firm, beautiful, long nails.

It might interest you to know that apples are a great source of nutrition that can help you maintain good, strong nail health.

Understanding nail health

Anatomy of nails

To understand what makes up the nail. It starts with a special structure called the nail bed, which is the layer found at the tips of the fingers and toes and contains blood vessels that make it appear pink.1 The next layer on top of the nail bed is the nail body which protects the tips from external pressure.

The nail body then forms a matrix of cells called the nail root, which enables the endless growth of the nail. The nail base is formed of a thick layer called the lunula, popularly known as the “little moon” because of its crescent shape.1

The nail fold covers the sides of the nails. It helps to hold the end of the nail body to form the nail cuticle, which is also called eponychium.1

Factors affecting nail health

It is normal for nails to undergo a change at different phases of life. For example, nails may become:

  • Thicker and easier to break as you get older2
  • Harder or softer during pregnancy (this should usually resolve six months after giving birth)2
  • Become loose after an injury either caused by nail biting or medication side-effects. You should always check the side effects of any medicines that you take
  • Change of colour from smoking or applying a lot of nail varnish2

Always contact your general practitioner (GP) if you changes to your nails are developed that cannot be explained.2

Common nail problems

These are usually caused by a fungal nail infection from washing your hands too often or with some cleaning products, not regularly trimming your nails, or cutting them properly.

They can sometimes be a sign of a more serious condition, like

Nutritional impact on nails

Some studies have suggested that the key nutrients for strong nails are mostly biotin and iron. Other studies have suggested Vitamins A, C and E, but no evidence has been found to support their use in nail health improvement.3,4

Biotin 

Some studies have proven that oral biotin helps to improve the firmness of easily broken nails and, in some cases, helps to reduce nail deformity.3

Iron

Iron is one of the major components of keratin. Keratin is the main chemical that is contained in the nail body and is mainly responsible for the growth of the nail.4

Antioxidants

Antioxidants are best known to help prevent or slow down the effect of damage to the nails by free radicals. Free radicals are substances that the body produces after exposure to strong pressures, which usually leads to several health issues.5

How diet influences nail growth

Maintaining a healthy diet is important to have healthy nails. Therefore, including foods with nutritional profiles containing biotin, iron, antioxidants, and some suggested vitamins A, C and E can contribute to having firm growth of nails with normal shape and colour.5

Apples and nail health

Nutritional profile of apples

Did you know that apples are one of the top three fruits that are produced around the world and are nutritiously filled with biotin, vitamins and minerals, which makes them a good addition to a healthy and balanced diet! Not only are they tasty, but they are portable and can easily be eaten on the go or able to fit into your mini bags.5

Apples as a source of key nutrients for nail health

It is indeed interesting to know that such an amount of goodness can be packed into this simple fruit. These beautiful wonders are rich in essential nutrients that can work wonders for our overall health.

For instance, apples contain biotin which is an important nutrient for maintaining strong nails and good shape. Not only that, but vitamin C is found in apples, which also plays a crucial role in strengthening our immune system, promoting healthy-looking nails, and aiding in wound healing.5

Let’s not forget about the antioxidants that protect the nails from damage caused by free radicals and help to absorb iron to improve good nail growth.5

So, the next time you reach for an apple, know that you're doing your body a world of good!

Other foods for strong nails

However, it is important to note that when adding apples to your diet, you must consider your individual needs and goals. Make sure to keep track of your calorie intake to ensure that you are consuming an appropriate amount of this fruit. 

In addition, it is essential to always include a variety of foods in your meals to ensure a well-balanced diet. Other foods that are good for strong nails are: 

Leafy greens

Dark leafy greens such as broccoli, spinach, and kale are rich in iron, is an important nutrient for nail health, especially for perfect growth.6

Nuts and seeds

They might not seem like the most exciting foods but they are simple and very good sources of vitamins, antioxidants and minerals which are great at preventing skin damage and improving nail health.6

Protein sources

Good protein sources such as eggs and salmons are rich in biotin. Biotin is an essential vitamin for preventing soft or easily broken nails and nail deformity. However, some studies suggest that the body doesn’t hold as much biotin, and sometimes taking biotin supplements can help complement the necessary amount of biotin that your body needs.6

Important fact! Portion control and meal timings are also critical factors to consider. 

Incorporating apples into your diet

You can find below some apple-based recipes that are tasty and nutritious that I believe you will enjoy, and you can try at home:5

Apple and almond butter sandwich

Using whole-grain bread or rice cake and some sliced apples, you can turn this into a snack or light meal. Spread the almond butter on one side of the bread or rice cake. Then, add the sliced apples on top then cover the toppings with the other slice of bread or rice cake to make a very simple sandwich.

Apple cinnamon oatmeal

If you are looking for a warm and filling breakfast, you can add some sliced apples to your oats. First, cook your oats as you normally do with water or milk or as instructed on the package. Then, during the last few minutes of cooking, add the sliced apples with a sprinkle of cinnamon. If you like, you can mix it with a drizzle of some honey or maple syrup and enjoy.

Apple spinach salad

If you love your greens, you can toss fresh salad that includes spinach leaves and red onion, then add some sliced apples for a refreshing and nutritious salad. You can also add some cheese and balsamic vinaigrette dressing if you prefer.

Apple and yoghurt parfait

For a healthy dessert, you can layer on Greek yoghurt, sliced apples, and granola and drizzle some honey in a glass or bowl. Feel free to repeat the layers as you wish, plus you can have this for breakfast if that is your preference. 

Roasted apple slices

For a warm or comforting side dish, you can roast some apples sprinkled with cinnamon and honey in the oven at 375°F (190°C) for about 15-20 minutes or until they are tender. 

These recipes can help you incorporate apples into your diet whilst also providing flavour with some much-needed nutrition. They can be adjusted to your liking and personalised dietary preferences. 

Recommended daily intake of apples

As the saying goes, everything must be in appropriate moderation. One medium-sized apple has around 95 calories, and adding one serving to your daily fruit intake is generally recommended.5 Again, remember to consume a diverse range of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins to ensure that you are getting a wide variety of vitamins and minerals.

Tips for nail care

Some tips to help you avoid common nail problems:

  • Clean your nails with a soft nailbrush
  • Trim your nails regularly (this is usually best to do after a shower or bath)
  • Wear rubber gloves if you regularly use cleaning products
  • Apply simple moisturising hand cream to your nails and fingertips regularly
  • Only trim your nails straight across the top to avoid ingrown toenails

Avoid damaging habits

  • Do not use sharp objects on your nails
  • Do not wear shoes that pinch your toes
  • Avoid biting or picking your nails or the skin around them
  • Do not cut your nails at the edges
  • Do not ignore signs of infection, and see your GP as soon as you notice this

Summary

Apples are a great source of biotin, iron and vitamins that are necessary for your nail health. This article explored the nutritional benefits of apples and other food sources which can benefit your nail health.

While apples are great for your nails, it is also important to ensure that they are a part of a daily balanced diet for overall nail health. Speak to your GP if you notice any unexplained changes to your nails, and avoid damaging habits to your nails.

References

  1. Biology LibreTexts [Internet]. 2021 [cited 21 Oct 2023]. 6. 4: anatomy of the nails. Available at: https://bio.libretexts.org/Courses/West_Hills_College_-_Lemoore/Human_Anatomy_Laboratory_Manual_(Hartline)/06%3A_Integumentary_System/6.04%3A_Anatomy_of_the_Nails.
  2. NHS.uk [Internet]. 2017 [cited 21 Oct 2023]. Nail problems. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/nail-problems/.
  3. Lipner SR, Scher RK. Biotin for the treatment of nail disease: what is the evidence? J Dermatolog Treat. June 2018;29(4):411‑4.
  4. Cashman MW, Sloan SB. Nutrition and nail disease. Clin Dermatol. 2010;28(4):420‑5.
  5. Avenue 677 Huntington, Boston, Ma 02115. The Nutrition Source. 2018 [cited 21 Oct 2023]. Apples. Available at: https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/food-features/apples/.
  6. Godman H. Harvard Health. 2021 [cited 21 Oct 2023]. How many fruits and vegetables do we really need? Available at: https://www.health.harvard.edu/nutrition/how-many-fruits-and-vegetables-do-we-really-need.

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This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Omoteniola Olufon

MPharm, IP, University of Hertfordshire, England

Teni Olufon is a seasoned clinical pharmacist and independent prescriber with several years of clinical and management roles across diverse healthcare settings. With years of experience in patient and public health advocacy, she has since carved a niche for herself in the realm of contributing to writing evidence-based informations and policies to support patient care.

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