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We’re all too busy typing on our keyboards and tapping away on our iPhones to stop and analyse our naked nails. This might make you want to, though. Amy Morris, a naturopathic nutritionist from Water for Health says that changes in the shape, condition and colour of your nails could indicate a range of health issues. Here’s what she thinks they could be trying to tell you.

1.You’re anxious

“It is estimated that about 20% of the population are frequent nail biters, but why? Anxiety can be a big cause of nail biting as it can distract you from the root of your anxiety. If you’re guilty of it, try to be more conscious about when you bite your nails so you can identify your trigger and therefore deal with it appropriately. You could also invest in a stress ball or find another way to fidget when you get anxious that won’t affect your nail health.”

2.You’re dehydrated

“Proper hydration is extremely important to nail health. If you are dehydrated it can result in brittle nails which chip and break easily. To ensure you’re adequately hydrated, try to drink at least eight glasses of water each day. You can also make sure your diet is full of hydrating foods, these include celery, watermelon and cucumber.”

3.You’re ageing naturally

“Fingernails can become thicker, ridged and more brittle just through the ageing process, so don’t worry, its natural. To help keep your nails looking as young as you feel, a good quality supplement which contains zinc could really help. I recommend O’HISA (£49.75), a unique, advanced supplement which contains a powerful combination of Omega 7 and 9, hyaluronic acid, B vitamins and minerals.”.

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4.You’re a smoker

“Yellow-stained nails are one of the biggest tell-tale signs that you’re a smoker or that you used to smoke. This is because the nicotine and tar found in cigarettes stains both the nail and surrounding nail bed – but that’s not all. Smoking blocks oxygen to the fingernails which can also result in a yellow hue. Obviously the most important way to prevent further damage is to stop smoking; as the fingernails grow out, so will the stain. B12 supplements can also help to regain nail strength and regular manicures may also be able to ‘buff’ out the stains.”

5.You’re clumsy

“A lot of the time white discolouration in your nails can just mean that you’ve knocked them on something – which is very common. Usually they will grow out with the nail, however, if they don’t start to disappear after a few weeks it could be an indication of something more serious, such as diabetes, so you might want to see your GP.”

6.You’re exhausted

Surprisingly, lack of sleep can be reflected in your nail health. Weak and dull nails can be a sign that you are not getting the optimum eight hours of sleep per night. If you know you’re not sleeping well then try to identify why that is; are you anxious about something? Do you drink too much caffeine? Once you’ve identified the problem you can start to find a solution.”

7.You’re overdoing the manicures

“If you’re nails are feeling brittle and weak, ironically it could be a sign that you’re getting your nails done too often, as frequent salon visits can result in over-exposure to water or chemicals such as acetone. To combat this, try to take a break from polish between manicures and invest in a good quality castor oil, like Castor Oil BP (£5.99). Unlike many others, this one contains castor oil in its purest forms and is also cold pressed, ensuring it retains the greatest concentration of nutrients from the raw castor bean. Massage the oil into your nails every night to ensure revitalised and stronger nails.”

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8.You may be anaemic

“If your nails are becoming concave and look scooped away from the finger, like a spoon, it could be a sign that you’re not getting enough Iron. An easy fix for this is to make sure your diet contains lots of dark leafy green vegetables, nuts and seeds as well as a little organic red meat if you’re not vegetarian. If this still doesn’t help, then it might be worth speaking to your GP about iron supplementation.”

9.You’re fighting an infection

“If your nails aren’t looking as healthy and shiny as usual it may mean that your body is starting to fight an infection. If you’ve got a cold coming on, your body may stop nourishing your nails as it’s more important to use energy to fight the cold off instead.”

10.You may have psoriasis

“Pitting or dimpling in your nails could be a sign that you have psoriasis or another skin condition. If this is the case, you would probably have other symptoms such as dry, itchy skin, so keep an eye out and see a doctor if you’re concerned.”

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From: Harper’s BAZAAR UK