5 Nutrient-packed foods for strong nails

BY Laura Cooke

8th Dec 2022 Wellbeing

5 Nutrient-packed foods for strong nails

What are the best foods for strong nails? From steak and eggs to kiwi and tofu, these foods will help your nails stay healthy in the harsh winter months 

The winter months can have a major impact on your nails. Cold weather, combined with central heating, can cause nails to lose moisture, leaving them dry and brittle. This can mean that nails split, peel or break easily.

Investing in a good cuticle oil or switching to a more gentle nail polish and acetone-free nail polish remover may help to guard against breakages. But the good news is that you don’t need to splash out on expensive products or treatments to give damaged nails a much-needed boost.

The food you eat can help to improve nail health and contribute to keeping them strong and healthy through the winter months.

We asked an expert nutritionist which top five foods we should be eating in order to get all the vitamins and minerals needed to maintain good nail health during the harsh weeks ahead.


Healthy nails next to plate of raw steakNails need zinc to grow, which you can find in high abundance in steak

Whichever type of cut you favour, steak is a great source of protein, vitamins and minerals, with one mineral in particular an essential for good nail health.

Thalia Pellegrini, of Thalia Pellegrini Nutrition, said: “Beef is one of the highest sources of zinc, a mineral that is an important nutrient for healthy nails.” If you are vegetarian or vegan, tofu is also a good source of zinc.

"Beef is one of the highest sources of zinc"

Zinc is responsible for wound healing, making new cells and enzymes and processing carbohydrate, fat and protein in food.

If you aren’t sure whether you are getting enough zinc in your diet, there is one telltale sign to look out for. “Low zinc can show up as white spots on our nails,” says Thalia.


The humble egg is a great choice for healthier nails, as it is a source of biotin, a B vitamin which is known to promote healthy hair, skin and nails.

Thalia says: “This nutrient, also known as B7, may encourage healthy cell growth and aids in the metabolism of protein-building amino acids that are essential for nail growth. Biotin has been shown to be helpful for brittle nails.”

Alternatively, soybeans are a good vegan source of biotin.


Kiwi nail art on healthy nails next to sliced kiwi fruitKiwis and oranges both contain vitamin C, which help nails to grow strong

Move out of the way, oranges—kiwis are packed with vitamin C and are a better choice if you want to keep your nails strong and healthy.

Thalia explains: “This fruit is one of the highest food sources of vitamin C, which is essential for the production of collagen, a protein that gives shape, strength and integrity to many tissues and is the building block of fingernails, as well as your hair and teeth.”

"Collagen gives shape, strength and integrity to many tissues and is the building block of fingernails"

Yellow peppers are also an excellent source of vitamin C to help you reach the NHS-recommended intake of 40mg a day.


Salmon is known for being great for brain health, heart health and an anti-inflammatory to boot. High in omega 3, salmon or another oily fish once or twice a week is also another excellent way to feed and nourish nails.

Thalia says: “Omega 3, an essential fatty acid that the body cannot make and must come from our diet, helps to strengthen nails and keep the nail bed healthy.”

For vegetarians, vegans and anyone else who doesn’t eat fish, a palmful of walnuts as an alternative is also a good source of omega 3.


Hands slicing tofu, a food that is good for growing strong nailsTofu is high in vital calcium, and a good source of nail-strengthening vitamins for vegans and vegetarians

Tofu, or bean curd, is derived from popular plant-based meat and dairy alternative soya and is great for nail health. Not only is it a good source of zinc, but it is also packed full of one of the most important minerals associated with strong, healthy nails.

“Tofu is one of the highest food sources of a key nutrient for nail health—calcium,” explains Thalia. “Thin, weak or brittle nails can be a sign that your body needs more calcium.”

But if tofu is not a food that regularly finds its way into your shopping basket then don’t worry, as there are plenty of other calcium-rich alternatives available. Other food sources include dairy foods, such as milk and cheese; seeds, such as sesame seeds and chia seeds; and dark green leafy vegetables, such as curly kale and okra.

"Tofu is one of the highest food sources of a key nutrient for nail health—calcium"

As well as ensuring you get adequate amounts of zinc, calcium, omega 3, and vitamins C and B7 in your diet, you should make sure that you are eating plenty of protein-rich foods. “With regards to nail health, this is essential for supporting the production of keratin,” Thalia says. “Aim for 0.8g of protein per kilo of body weight.”

And finally, don’t be tempted to forgo healthy eating for expensive supplements to bolster your nails instead. Thalia recommends not wasting your money, adding: “The overall message is that supplements don't help—except biotin for brittle nails.”

Find out all you need to know on nutrient-rich foods that are good for you with Nutrient-Rich Foods For A Long Life, available on Amazon.

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