Vitamins for overall health and vitamins for toenails are commonly the same thing. If we consume a diet of nutrient-rich foods, our eyes become clearer, our tongue is pink and clean, and our skin becomes healthy and radiant. Depending on our daily activities and where we live, our bodies require sufficient water to maintain a hydrated condition. Water helps in flushing unwanted toxins to cleanse the body.
The same thing goes for our fingernails and toenails. If they are trimmed, cleaned, and nourished with essential vitamins and minerals, they will look beautiful with a slight sheen. Our toenails are made up of Keratin, a strong protein that is also present in our hair, fingernails, and outer layer of the skin. To keep all of these in healthy condition, it is important to get the right vitamins and minerals. This also includes a good supply of iron and protein.
How Toenail Fungus Develops
Toenail fungus or onychomycosis is a common condition that may cause your toenails to thicken, crumble at the edge and become discolored. Infected nails will lose their natural sheen and you may notice a dark shade caused by debris or dirt collecting under the toenail. This makes one self-conscious as it may also produce a foul odor in addition to its appearance.
Toenail fungus is caused by various fungal organisms. While molds and yeast can cause fungal nail infections, the most common cause is a type of fungus known as dermatophyte. The infection may occur in people at any age, but it is more common in older individuals. Factors like a compromised immune system and poor blood circulation to the feet may play a role in the development of toenail fungus.
Some factors that can increase the risk of getting toenail fungus include:
- Walking barefoot in damp public areas, such as gyms, shower rooms and swimming pools.
- Being older as it reduces blood flow to lower extremities of the body.
- Having or had athlete’s foot.
- Having a nail injury, skin injury, or skin condition like psoriasis.
- Having a suppressed immune system, circulation problems or diabetes.
- Sweating a lot
Anybody can get infected with toenail fungus, but this disease is more common in athletes. The fungi that cause the infection thrive in warm, dark and moist places like sweaty sports shoes. This means that athletes are susceptible not only to Achilles tendonitis and Plantar Fasciitis, but also toenail fungus.
5 Supplements to Help Treat Toenail Fungus
Lack of certain vitamins is rarely the cause of fungal nail infections, but including more vitamins and minerals in your daily meal can help in treating toenail fungus. Certain supplements in the forms of capsules and tablets also assist in keeping fingernails, toenails, hair and skin in healthy conditions.
1. Vitamin B7 or Biotin
Biotin is a water-soluble B vitamin that plays a significant role in various metabolic processes of our bodies. It helps in converting food into energy and it is also an important vitamin for the proper function of the nervous system. Biotin deficiencies can affect skin, hair, and nails. This may result in scaly skin, rashes, hair loss and brittle nails.
Taking biotin supplements can strengthen weak and brittle nails. You can also obtain this minor B vitamin from mushrooms, eggs, broccoli, cauliflower, whole grains, almonds, nuts and legumes. It also decreases nail splitting and may contribute to faster growing of toenails.
Iron is one of the essential minerals our bodies need to function properly. The body uses this nutrient to maintain cell growth and to transport oxygen throughout the body. Lack of this mineral deprives your muscles and tissues of oxygen, which may lead to iron deficiency anemia. It also affects the cells that help in forming toenails and fingernails.
Brittle and weak nails can also be symptoms of iron deficiency. The body needs iron to maintain the count of red blood cells. You can obtain iron poultry, red meat, sea foods, pork, dark green leafy vegetables, eggs, peas, iron-fortified cereals and dried fruits. Consuming foods rich in iron can also help in treating toenail fungus.
3. Vitamin B3 or Niacin
Because toenail fungus primarily infects your toenails, it is vital to provide your nails with enough nourishment to keep them strong. Vitamin B3 or niacin helps in improving the appearance of hair, skin, and nails. It also reduces cholesterol levels in the blood and decreases the risk of coronary heart diseases.
Niacin also assists with energy metabolism. Lack of this important vitamin may result in pellagra, a disease characterized by poor concentration, diarrhea, dermatitis, anxiety, depression, and dementia. Top foods rich in vitamin B3 include turkey, chicken breast, peanuts, mushrooms, liver, green peas, grass-fed beef, sunflower seeds and avocado.
Zinc is an essential trace mineral and contains antioxidant properties, which is important to protect organs and cells from the damaging effects of free radicals. This mineral contributes to immunity, wound scarring, as well as nail and hair growth. It also helps in treating toenail fungus by eliminating harmful microorganisms from the infection. Eating foods rich in zinc can also enhance the appearance of nails.
Foods high in zinc include pumpkin seeds, dark chocolate, garlic, watermelon seeds, sesame seeds, chickpeas and wheat germ. Include more lean meat, zinc-fortified breakfast cereals and seafood in your diet to obtain zinc. You can also ask your doctor for supplements and proper dosages.
5. Vitamin C
Vitamin C helps in keeping your body hydrated. It also assists in combatting free radicals due to its powerful antioxidant agents. This vitamin is not only an immune booster, but it also maintains the integrity of toenails and fingernails by strengthening our bones, blood vessel walls, connective tissue and skin.
Aside from vitamin C supplement, you can also consume more oranges, red peppers, kale, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, guava, kiwi and other foods rich in vitamin C.
Bear in mind that supplements do not miraculously get rid of toenail fungus. It requires consistent topical applications, lifestyle and diet changes to eliminate the infection. Supplements can help in treating toenail fungus effectively while strengthening your toenails and overall health. Make sure that you also see your physician before taking any supplements to prevent further complications.
Amanda Roberts is a professional blogger and a podiatry student. She is an enthusiast who loves to write on several niches, particularly in foot health, including plantar fasciitis, toenail fungus, foot massage and reflexology.