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  • Writer's pictureTina Phillips

Zinc Deficiency in Nails

Zinc is not called the beauty vitamin for nothing. It’s second only to iron as the most abundantly found mineral in the human body and among its key functions are keeping skin, hair, teeth and nails healthy, not to mention the functioning of our libidos and immune systems.

Zinc is needed for the activity of over 300 body enzymes, and these enzymes help to bring about biochemical reactions in the body that are essential to protein synthesis, hormone production, as well as overall radiance and wellbeing.

Symptoms of low zinc include a weakened immune system, more colds and poor wound healing, tiredness, and low sex drive. Did you know your nails show many signs of zinc deficiency?

Zinc is a micronutrient that has an important role in human metabolism. Within the body, it catalyzes enzymes, enables protein folding, and regulates gene expression. Without each of these processes, a person’s body would not function properly.

Zinc enables proteins in the body to grow and remain strong. This includes proteins in the nails. Lack of zinc means the rate of nail growth decreases, and the nails themselves become fragile and brittle, causing them to crack.

Zinc deficiency can show in nails in the form of -

Brittle nails

Brittle nails are thin and break very easily. They may split horizontally, forming layers.

Cuticle inflammation and paronychia

The cuticle is dead skin that a person can see at the base of the nail. Zinc deficiency can cause the cuticle to become inflamed or cause an infection known as paronychia.

Beau's lines

Beau’s lines are grooves that run horizontally across the fingernails caused when there is a disruption to the area where nail growth starts.

Muehrcke's lines

Muehrcke’s lines appear similarly to Beau’s lines. Instead of grooves, however, there are double white lines that go horizontally across the nails.


Onychorrhexis, or longitudinal ridging, are ridges that run vertically along the nails increases the brittleness of the nails and splitting.


Leukonychia is white coloration of the nails appears white. Transverse leukonychia, or Mees’ lines, is when the coloration occurs in lines that extend across the width of the nail.

Luckily a zinc deficiency can be treated through diet by increasing the intake of zinc rich foods. Also zinc supplements are available.

If a person consumes too much zinc, they may experience symptoms like nausea, abdominal pain, appetite loss, diarrhea and headache.

A person can also try the following to help maintain the health of their nails -

  • Staying hydrated

  • Avoiding biting or picking at the nails

  • Keeping the nails trimmed

  • Wearing rubber gloves when cleaning or washing the dishes

  • Avoiding using nail polish and nail polish remover

  • Regularly moisturizing the hands and feet

  • Avoiding wearing artificial nails

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