Disorders That Show Up in the Nails
From the excellent book "Prescription For Nutritional Healing" by Dr. James Balch, M.D. and Phyllis A. Balch, C.N.C.

Nail Problems

The nails protect the nerve-rich fingertips and tip 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 o which the nails grow. Nails grow from 0.05 to 1.2 millimeters (approximately 1/500 to 1/200 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.

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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.

Nail changes may signify a number of disorders elsewhere in the body.
These changes may indicate illness before any other symptoms 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 enclocarditis, a serious heart infection; other heart disease; or a bleeding disorder.

* Brittle nails signify possible iron deficiency, thyroid problems, impaired kidney function, and circulation problems.

* Brittle, soft, shiny nails without a moon may indicate an overactive thyroid.

* Dark 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.

* Nail beading (the development of bumps on the surface of the nail) is a sign of rheumatoid arthritis.

* Nails that broaden toward the tip and curve downward are a sign 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 raised at the base, with small, white ends, show a respiratory disorder such as emphysema or chronic bronchitis. This type of nail may also simply be inherited.

* Nails separated from the nail bed may signify a thyroid disorder or a local infection.

* Nails that have pitting resembling hammered brass indicate a tendency toward partial or total hair loss.

* Pitted red-brown spots and frayed and 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. Ridges running up and down the nails also indicate a tendency to develop arthritis.

Thick nails may indicate that the vascular system is weakening and the blood is not circulating property. They may also be a sign of thyroid disease.

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 with the lymphatic system, respiratory disorders, diabetes, and liver disorders.