Q: My nails are brittle and have ridges. Could this be the result of a vitamin deficiency?
A: You could be low on iron. This mineral is essential for growth and maintenance of the nails and nail bed. In a long-term deficiency, the nails can become spoon-shaped, where the nail either flattens out or curves abnormally.
Other symptoms of iron deficiency include fatigue, increased susceptibility to colds and infections, and poor exercise performance.
To maximize iron absorption, consume a vitamin C-rich food, such as orange juice, with each iron-rich meal, such as black bean soup; cook in cast-iron pans; and avoid drinking milk with meals that are the main suppliers of iron (these minerals compete for absorption, so a high-calcium food will lower absorption of iron.)
Also, ask your physician to check your iron status, including tests such as hemoglobin, hematocrit, total iron binding capacity (TIBC), and serum ferritin.
About the Author:
Elizabeth Somer, M.A., is a nutrition expert, award-winning author, and registered dietitian who has spent the past 25 years translating the often-confusing, sometime contradictory nutrition research into practical advice through her books, articles, lectures and television appearances. A frequent guest on the Today Show, her latest book is Eat Your Way to Happiness.