Hair and Nail Signs of Health

What your body is telling you: Hair and nail signs to watch out for in your daily wellness routine.


Your nail bed appearance includes from your cuticles to the tips of your nails.  White spots on the nail typically indicate a nutritional deficiency.  This can be trace minerals, low calcium intake.  The condition known as “leukonychia” is a hotly debated topic.  Some say white spots are simply signs of damage to the matrix or base of the nail bed.  We all bang our hands on something from time to time, and typically don’t remember the incident when a white spot appears.

Sometimes, a change in the appearance of your nails does indicate an underlying disease, but these changes would be more dramatic than just the occasional white spot. Nails that turn completely white, for example, can indicate liver disease, but by the time this happens, you probably would have other symptoms.


Hair is almost always a sign of health or illness.  Because the hair is essentially dead once sprouting from the scalp, some of the luster and sheen of healthy hair can be preserved through treatment product.  However, the cortex of hair and outer appearance is like the rings on a tree with a few inches here or there indicating a past illness.  This can be as simple as nutrition or stress, or loss of hair which can be a pre-determinant to the diagnosis of diabetes.

The Trichological Society based in Essex, UK, suggests a strong linkage to hair growth and development and diet. Hair is the fastest growing natural tissue in the human body: the average rate of growth is 0.5cm – 1.7cm per month depending on ethnicity. Optimal growth occurs from age 15 – 30 and reduces from age 40 – 50. although men find beard hair grows faster beyond the age of 50 years.  Hair products (shampoos or vitamin supplements) have not been shown to noticeably change this rate. The cycles of growth of each follicle consist of creation followed by self destruction. During each new cycle the follicle is partially recreated.

The speed of hair growth is based upon genetics, gender, age, hormones. It may be reduced by nutrient deficiency (i.e., anorexia, anemia, zinc deficiency) and hormonal fluctuations (i.e., menopause, polycystic ovaries, thyroid disease).

It is important to mention that many of the metabolic requirements of follicle cells (minerals and vitamins) must be satisfied for optimal hair growth (not always derived from fast foods and punishing work schedules).
Nutritionists confirm that people with certain nutritional deficiencies tend to have dry, stringy and dull hair, and sometimes experience hair loss. Fortunately the latter can be restored once the deficiency is addressed.

Crash diets cause temporary hair loss due to incumbent nutritional factors e.g. anorexia, bulimia and other medical conditions.
Diets should contain protein, fruits, vegetables, grains, and an appropriate amount of fat.  Deficiency will typically show in the hair.  A mild case of anemia can cause shedding of hair.  B group vitamins are significantly important for healthy hair, especially biotin.  Because B vitamins are water soluble, there needs to be a steady supply to ensure production of healthy follicles. Crash diets can wreak havoc on the appearance of hair. Healthy fats like salmon, avocado and nuts in moderation help the hair to have desired luster.

Author: Melinda Minton

Melinda Minton is a thirty year veteran of the spa industry. Executive Director of, Minton has authored six books and numerous feature articles.

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