What It Really Means When Your Fingernails Won't Grow

You may not think that much of your fingernails, but they can tell you a lot about your health. According to Mayo Clinic, your nails are an extension of your skin and are made up of the protein keratin. Healthy nails will be hard, smooth, and free of any bumps or abnormal coloring. On average, your nails should grow about 3.47 millimeters per month (via Medical News Today). While that isn't very fast, you'll probably notice if yours are growing abnormally slow.

If your nails are growing slowly, you're probably lacking in some nutrients. A healthy diet is vital for healthy nail growth. People with an iron deficiency often notice brittle nails along with other symptoms like fatigue and dry hair. Calcium is also important for nail growth, so you might have short nails if you aren't getting enough of this supplement in your diet. Biotin, which is often found in hair and nail supplements, is also key to healthy fingernails. Even protein, which you may not think about when considering the health of your skin and nails, is a key nutrient for all aspects of your body. If your fingernails won't grow very quickly, consider looking at your diet and taking a supplement if necessary.

Do hair, skin, and nail vitamins work?

Vitamins and supplements marketed to help with the health of your nails can be helpful for people who actually have a vitamin deficiency. While it's best to get your vitamins through a healthy diet, many people struggle to get an adequate intake of some vitamins and minerals. There are other factors, including health issues and certain medications, that can cause vitamin deficiencies in people who do eat a healthy diet (via Consumer Reports). If that's the case for you, your doctor will likely prescribe a supplement.

For the average person, however, a hair, skin, and/or nail supplement probably won't do much. While they usually aren't bad for you, most beauty supplements are basically multivitamins full of additives that you don't need. "While it's true that vitamins and minerals are important for skin health, most people get the nutrients they need from the foods they eat," Dermatologist Hadley King, M.D. told Refinery29. "There's little data to show that either a beauty supplement or a multivitamin, however it's marketed, will improve the health of the skin in an otherwise healthy person without a vitamin deficiency." If you have concerns about your nail health, it's best to speak to a doctor before trying any new vitamins.