The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

The Nail Health Diet: Four Great Foods for Superstrong Toenails

Posted by on Thursday, November 22nd, 2012


Hey, what are you eating today? Any toenail-friendly foods?

Now I know what you’re thinking: “Whaaaat? I’m not eating any food with toenails in it!” I completely understand your horror and am happy to inform you that I am not suggesting that you eat food with toenails mixed in (excuse me, need to step away and regroup and erase that image from my mind, don’t be afraid to join me;  okay, I’m better now!). No, I mean foods that will make your toenails healthy and strong.

Your toenails work hard. They’re like little pieces of body armor, striving mightily to protect the tips of your toes from all the banging they go through as you walk, run, jump, dance, or do anything that impacts your feet.

Toenails are made of a protein called keratin (yes, fingernails are made of keratin, too, so  let’s just declare right now that everything we are about to say about toenails goes for fingernails as well, but if you want to see fingernails be the star of the show, you’ll have to find a fingernail blog…like this one). Interestingly, keratin is also part of your hair and the top layer of your skin. Isn’t the human body just zany sometimes?

Your nails can tell a lot about your health, though. Nails with white spots on them can indicate anemia. Weak, brittle nails are often a sign of a poor diet.

Luckily, you can avoid these problems with the right foods. Now what are these magic snacks that will make those little bits of armor on your toes stronger? Here are some ideas:

Foods with Vitamin B-12 This is a great vitamin for nail health, as well as your overall health. You can find B-12 in shellfish, beef, eggs, pork and liver. If you’re vegetarian, you can get B-12 in milk, yogurt, and eggs. If you’re vegan, check the labels of your boxes of cereal or soy milk to see if they have B-12 added. You can also take B-12 supplements; they’re usually made from bacteria, so they’re okay for vegans.

Foods with Vitamin C This is an antioxidant that helps protect your nails. It’s easily found in oranges, mangoes, red peppers, winter squash and leafy greens.

Foods with Zinc This is another antioxidant that’s important for your health, nail and otherwise. Eat foods like soybeans, tofu, green beans, cheese, and oysters for your zinc supply. I know, you’re scared of tofu, right? Don’t be! Check the Savvy Vegetarian for some tofu tips to get you started.

Foods with Biotin Also known as B-7, biotin helps make your nails strong. Great biotin sources include whole grains, mushrooms, beans, eggs, and nut butters. Can’t eat peanuts or you’re just tired of peanut butter? Try some of the other nut butters that are out there.

The good news about these foods is that they’ll also make your hair and skin healthier. Thank you, toenails! However, if you feel like your diet is healthy and you’re still having issues with discolored, brittle nails, you should see a podiatrist at The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine ( 212.996.1900 ) to see if you have an infection or some other nail problem.



If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.