From Prescription for Nutritional Healing by Balch & Balch
The nails protect the nerve-rich fingertips and tips of the toes from injury. Nails are a substructure of the epidermis (the outer layer of the skin) and are composed mainly of keratin, a type of protein. the nail bed is the skin on tip of which the nails grow. Nails grow from .05 to 1.2 millimeters (approximately 1/500 to 1/20 inch) a week. If a nail is lost, it takes about seven months to grow out fully.
Healthy nail beds are pink, indicating a rich blood supply. changes or abnormalities in the nails are often the result of nutritional deficiencies or other underlying conditions. The nails can reveal a great deal about the body's internal health. nail abnormalities on either the fingers or the toes can indication underlying disorder.
The following are some of the changes that nutritional deficiencies can produce in the nails:
A lack of protein, folic acid, and vitamin C causes hang nails. White bands across the nails are also an indication of protein deficiency.
A lack of vitamin A and calcium causes dryness and brittleness.
A deficiency of the B vitamins causes fragility, with horizontal and vertical ridges.
Insufficient intake of vitamin B12 leads to excessive dryness, very rounded and curved nail ends, and darkened nails.
Iron deficiency may result in 'spoon' nails (nails that develop a concave shape) and/or vertical ridges.
Zinc deficiency may cause the development of white spots on the nails.
A lack of sufficient 'friendly' bacteria (lactobacilli) in the body can result in the growth of fungus under and around nails.
A lack of sufficient hydrochloric acid (HCI) contributes to splitting nails.
DISORDERS THAT SHOW UP IN THE NAILS
Nail changes may signify a number of disorders elsewhere in the body. These changes may indicate illness before any othersymptoms do. Seek medical attention if any of the following symptoms are suspected.
BLACK, SPLINTER LIKE BITS UNDER THE NAILS can be a sign of infectious endocarditis, a serious heart infection; other heart disease; or a bleeding disorder.
BLACK BANDS from the cuticle outward to the end of the nail can be an early sign of melanoma.
BRITTLE, SOFT, SHINY NAILS WITHOUT A MOON may indicate an overactive thyroid.
BRITTLE NAILS signify possible iron deficiency, thyroid problems, impaired kidney function, and circulation problems.
CRUMBLY, WHITE NAILS near the cuticle are sometimes an indication of AIDS.
DAR NAILS AND/OR THIN, FLAT, SPOON-SHAPED NAILS are a sign of vitamin B12 deficiency or anemia. Nails can also turn gray or dark if the hands are placed in chemicals such as cleaning supplies (most often bleach) or a substance to which one is allergic.
DEEP BLUE NAIL BEDS show a pulmonary obstructive disorder such as asthma or emphysema.
DOWNWARD-CURVED nail ends may denote heart, liver, or respiratory problems.
FLAT NAILS can denote Raynaud's disease.
GREENISH NAILS, if not a result of a localized fungal infection, may indicate an internal bacterial infection.
A HALF-WHITE NAIL WITH DARK SPOTS AT THE TIP points to possible kidney disease.
AN ISOLATED DARK-BLUE BAND IN THE NAIL BED, especially in light-skinned people, can be a sign of skin cancer.
LINDSAY'S NAILS (sometimes known as 'half-and-half' nails), nails in which half of the top of the nail is white and the other half is pink, may be a sign of chronic kidney disease.
NAIL BEADING (the development of bumps on the surface of the nail) is a sign of rheumatoid arthritis.
NAILS RAISED AT THE BASE WITH SMALL WHITE ENDS, show a respiratory disorder such as emphysema or chronic bronchitis. This type of nails may also simply be inherited.
NAILS SEPARATED FROM THE NAIL BED may signify a thyroid disorder (this condition is known as onyholysis) or a local infection.
NAILS THAT BROADEN TOWARD THE TIP AND CURVE DOWNWARD are a sing of lung damage, such as from emphysema or exposure to asbestos.
NAILS THAT CHIP, PEEL, CRACK ,OR BREAK EASILY show a general nutritional deficiency and insufficient hydrochloric acid and protein. Minerals are also needed.
NAILS THAT HAVE PITTING RESEMBLING HAMMERED BRASS indicate a tendency toward partial or total hair loss.
PITTED RED-BROWN SPOTS AND FRAYED SPLIT ENDS indicate psoriasis; vitamin C, folic acid, and protein are needed.
RED SKIN AROUND THE CUTICLES can be indicative of poor metabolism of essential fatty acids or of a connective tissue disorder such as lupus.
RIDGES can appear in the nails either vertically or horizontally. Vertical ridges indicate poor general health, poor nutrient absorption, and/or iron deficiency; they may also indicate a kidney disorder. Horizontal ridges can occur as a result of severe stress, either psychological or physical, such as from infection and/or disease. A horizontal indention in the nails (Beau's line) can occur as a result of a heart attack, major illness, or surgery. Ridges running up and down the nails also indicate a tendency to develop arthritis.
SPOONING (upward-curling) OR PITTING NAILS can be caused by disorders such as anemia or problems with iron absorption.
THICK NAILS may indicate that the vascular system is weakening and the blood is not circulating properly. THis may also be a sign of thyroid disease.
THICK TOENAILS can be a result of fungal infection.
THINNING NAILS may signal lichen planus, an itchy skin disorder.
TWO WHITE HORIZONTAL BANDS THAT DO NOT MOVE AS THE NAIL GROWS are a sign of hypoalbuminemia, a protein deficiency in the blood.
UNUSUALLY WIDE, SQUARE NAILS can suggest a hormonal disorder.
WHITE LINES show possible heart disease, high fever, or arsenic poisoning.
WHITE LINES ACROSS THE NAIL may indicate a liver disease.
IF THE WHITE MOON AREA OF THE NAIL TURNS RED, it may indicate heart problems; IF IT TURNS SLATE BLUE, then it can indicate either heavy metal poisoning (such as silver poisoning) or lung trouble.
WHITE NAILS indicate possible liver or kidney disorders and/or anemia.
WHITE NAILS with pink near the tips are a sign of cirrhosis.
YELLOW NAILS OR AN ELEVATION OF THE NAIL TIPS can indicate internal disorders long before other symptoms appear. Some of these are problems wit the lymphatic system, respiratory disorders, diabetes, and liver disorders.
So, there it is. More than you ever wanted to know about nails, and then some!