When Vitamin And Nutritional Deficiencies Cause Skin And Nail Changes (2023)

When Vitamin And Nutritional Deficiencies Cause Skin And Nail Changes (1)If patients are not getting enough micronutrients or macronutrients, dermatologic conditions can arise in the skin and nails. Accordingly, this author offers salient insights on cutaneous manifestations of various vitamin and nutritional deficiencies.

Numerous skin and nail changes result from macronutrient and micronutrient deficiency. Macronutrients include carbohydrates, fats and protein whereas micronutrients include vitamins and minerals. In developed countries, vitamin and nutritional deficiencies most commonly result from poverty, restrictive diets, medication, alcoholism and inadequate dietary intake in the ill and elderly. Recognition of skin and nail changes can be an important tool for diagnosing underlying nutritional deficiencies.

In developed nations, macronutrient deficiency is very rare. Protein and essential fatty acid deficiency occur more frequently than carbohydrate deficiency due to the high carbohydrate content of many foods. Both protein and essential fatty acid deficiencies result in cutaneous and nail disorders as these nutrients serve as building blocks for these structures.

Protein is a critical nutrient for human growth and maintenance of body tissues. Proteins perform a large array of functions including catalyzing metabolic reactions, replicating DNA, transporting molecules and cell signaling. Amino acids are the primary constituent of protein. The nutritional characteristics of a protein depend on its amino acid composition. There are nine essential amino acids: histidine, lysine, isoleucine, leucine, methionine, tryptophan, threonine, valine and phenylalanine.

Protein-energy malnutrition results from inadequate protein intake. In developed countries, protein deficiency is most commonly associated with disease and advanced age. Severe protein deficiency results in kwashiorkor, which is characterized by edema, irritability, anorexia, ulcerating dermatoses and liver enlargement.1,2 In addition to ulcerating dermatoses, there are several other dermatologic manifestations of protein deficiency including desquamative rash, hair discoloration and thinning, skin depigmentation, impaired wound healing and dermatitis.1,2

Essential fatty acids are those that people must ingest as the body cannot synthesize them. The two essential fatty acids are linoleic acid (omega-6 fatty acid) and alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3 fatty acid). Essential fatty acid deficiency is very rare as even small amounts of dietary intake can prevent deficiency. In cases of essential fatty acid deficiency, scaly dermatitis, alopecia and intellectual disability can result.3

(Video) Identifying Nutritional Deficiencies Through Nails, Skin & Hair – Dr.Berg's Webinar

Understanding The Dangers Of Vitamin Deficiency
Vitamin deficiencies are frequent causes of several dermatologic disorders. Deficiencies of water-soluble vitamins, such as most B vitamins and vitamin C, may develop after weeks to months of under-nutrition. Deficiencies of fat-soluble vitamins, such as vitamins A, D, E, K and B12, can take up to a year to develop because the body stores them in relatively large amounts.

When Vitamin And Nutritional Deficiencies Cause Skin And Nail Changes (2)Biotin is a water-soluble B vitamin that acts as a coenzyme for essential reactions for fat and carbohydrate metabolism. Biotin deficiency is extremely rare due to several factors including a low daily biotin requirement, wide distribution of biotin in readily available foods, biotin synthesis from intestinal bacteria and homeostatic mechanisms for scavenging and recovering biotin from body waste.4,5 However, biotin deficiency can result from total parental nutrition, protein deficiency, prolonged anticonvulsant therapy, severe malnutrition, prolonged oral antibiotic therapy, consumption of raw egg whites, alcohol abuse and excessive antidiuretic medication use.6

Dermatologic signs of biotin deficiency include thinning of hair and hair loss, patchy red rash (most commonly near the mouth), seborrheic dermatitis and fungal skin and nail infections.6 Other conditions associated with biotin deficiency include hallucinations, lethargy, anorexia, depression, myalgia and paresthesias.6

Folate is required for red blood cell production and DNA synthesis. Folate deficiency is a common disorder and results from under-nutrition, alcoholism, malabsorption, increased folate demand (pregnancy and lactation) and medications such as metformin, triamterene (Dyrenium, WellSpring Pharmaceutical), oral contraceptives, anticonvulsants and methotrexate.7 Symptoms of folate deficiency include weakness, loss of appetite and weight loss.8 Severe folate deficiency results in megaloblastic anemia, which is characterized by large, abnormally nucleated erythrocytes. Symptoms of megaloblastic anemia include weakness, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, irritability, headache, heart palpitations and shortness of breath.9,10 Dermatologic manifestations of folate deficiency include painful oral mucosa, pallor and changes in skin, hair or fingernail pigmentation.9,10

A Closer Look At Specific Vitamin Deficiencies
Niacin (vitamin B3).
Niacin plays an important role in cell metabolism, namely oxidation-reduction reactions. Pellagra is a disorder that results from a chronic lack of niacin. Pellagra is rare in developed countries. It most commonly arises in areas where maize is a substantial part of the diet. Maize is a poor source of niacin because the gastrointestinal tract does not assimilate bound niacin unless it has been treated with alkali.11 Pellagra is classically described by the four D’s: diarrhea, dermatitis, dementia and death.12

When Vitamin And Nutritional Deficiencies Cause Skin And Nail Changes (3)Cutaneous manifestations of niacin deficiency include sunlight sensitivity, dermatitis, hair loss and red skin lesions.12 Skin lesions in pellagra tend to be symmetric and occur in sun-exposed areas and on pressure points. The appearance of skin lesions in pellagra can be variable but the symmetric distribution at pressure points and sun-exposed skin is more pathognomonic.12 Lesions can develop in a glove-like distribution on the hands (pellagrous glove) or in a boot-shaped distribution on the feet and legs (pellagrous boot).12 Additionally, sunlight can cause casal necklace, an erythematous rash in the distribution of a broad collar and butterfly-shaped lesions on the face.12

Vitamin B6. Vitamin B6 is an important cofactor in many enzymatic reactions of amino acid, lipid and glucose metabolism. It plays an important role in hemoglobin synthesis and function. While rare, dietary deficiency of vitamin B6 can result from excessive food processing, under-nutrition, malabsorption, renal disease and alcoholism. Other causes include the use of pyridoxine-inactivating drugs such as anticonvulsants, isoniazid (Laniazid), cycloserine (Seromycin), hydralazine (Apresoline, Novartis), corticosteroids or penicillamine (Cuprimine, Valeant Pharmaceuticals).13,14 Isolated vitamin B6 deficiency is uncommon and usually associated with low levels of other B vitamins.

(Video) 28 Signs Your Body is Deficient in Vital Nutrients (With Solution)

The classic clinical syndrome for vitamin B6 deficiency is a seborrheic dermatitis-like eruption, atrophic glossitis with ulceration, angular cheilitis (scaling on the lips and cracks at the corners of the mouth), conjunctivitis, intertrigo, sideroblastic anemia (due to impaired heme synthesis) and neurologic symptoms of somnolence, confusion, depression and neuropathy.13,14

Vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 plays a key role in metabolism, nervous system function and red blood cell formation. Specifically, it has important functions in DNA synthesis and regulation, fatty acid metabolism and amino acid metabolism.16 Causes of vitamin B12 deficiency include inadequate diet (vegan diet), impaired absorption (lack of intrinsic factor, decreased GI acid secretion, small bowel disease) and drugs (antacids, metformin, nitrous oxide).16 The main clinical syndrome resulting from vitamin B12 deficiency is pernicious anemia, which is characterized by megaloblastic anemia.

When Vitamin And Nutritional Deficiencies Cause Skin And Nail Changes (4)Gastrointestinal symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency include abdominal pain and weight loss as well as neurologic symptoms including sensory and motor neuropathy, seizure, depression and dementia.17 Cutaneous manifestations of vitamin B12 deficiency include pallor and brown-gray fingernail and toenail discoloration.18

Vitamin A. Vitamin A is important in the maintenance of epithelial tissues. Vitamin A is present in fish oils, liver, egg yolks, butter and vitamin A-fortified diary products. Additionally, vitamin A is a product of beta-carotene and other provitamin carotenoids that are part of green leafy and yellow vegetables, and deep and bright colored fruit. Vitamin A deficiency can result from inadequate intake, fat malabsorption and liver disorders, and can lead to numerous ophthalmologic, systemic and dermatologic conditions.

Ocular manifestations of vitamin A deficiency include xerophthalmia (dry eyes), keratomalacia (corneal necrosis/ulceration), nyctalopia (night blindness), Bitot’s spots (conjunctival lesions) and photophobia.20 Dermatologic manifestations of vitamin A deficiency include generalized xerosis and follicular hyperkeratosis.19 Xeroses resulting from vitamin A deficiency are characterized by fine wrinkles and scales.19 Follicular hyperkeratosis is characterized by red-brown follicular papules with a central keratotic spinous plug.19 These lesions are usually clustered around the bony prominences of the elbows and the knees, but may extend further up and down the extremities.19

Vitamin C. Vitamin C is a cofactor in numerous collagen synthesis reactions and plays an essential role in collagen and amino acid formation. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that supports immune function and is also essential to wound healing. Severe vitamin C deficiency results in scurvy, which is characterized by general weakness, anemia, gum disease and skin hemorrhages.21,22 In developed nations, scurvy is very rare and milder vitamin C deficiency resulting from under- or malnutrition is more common.

Systemic symptoms of vitamin C deficiency include fatigue, weakness, weight loss, myalgia and arthralgias.20,21 Dermatologic manifestations of vitamin C deficiency result from defects in connective tissue development and include rough skin, follicular hyperkeratosis, coiled hair, perifollicular hemorrhages, easy bruising, petechiae and skin tears.20,21 Deficiency also results in poor wound healing and secondary infections.20,21

(Video) Your Nails Help Diagnose Nutrient Deficiencies

When Patients Are Not Getting Enough Minerals, Iron Or Zinc
Six micronutrients (sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, chloride and phosphorus) and nine trace minerals (zinc, selenium, molybdenum, chromium, copper, iodine, iron, manganese and fluorine) are required in the human diet. Mineral deficiency can result from inadequate consumption, inadequate digestion or absorption, and increased demand for minerals. Mineral deficiencies are more common in children due to their increased requirements secondary to growth.

When Vitamin And Nutritional Deficiencies Cause Skin And Nail Changes (5)Iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency in the world. Iron has numerous functions in the body including carrying oxygen to tissues, serving as cytochromes to carry electrons within cells, facilitating oxygen storage in muscle and facilitating numerous enzymatic reactions in tissues.23 Iron deficiency can range from depleted iron stores without functional impairment to iron deficiency anemia, which affects several organ systems. Iron deficiency has several dermatologic manifestations including pallor, hair loss, brittle nails, nails with a central groove and koilonychia (spoon shaped nails).18 Additional symptoms of iron deficiency anemia include anxiety, irritability, sleepiness, heart palpitations, syncope and shortness of breath.23

Zinc is a mineral that is an important component of numerous enzymes and plays an essential role in several biochemical pathways. Zinc deficiency most commonly results from inadequate dietary intake but can also result from inadequate absorption (small bowel disease) and increased loss (diuretics, hepatic insufficiency).24 Symptoms of zinc deficiency include hypogonadism, alopecia, impaired immunity, anorexia, dermatitis, night blindness, anemia, lethargy and impaired wound healing.16 Specific dermatologic manifestations of zinc deficiency include dermatitis, xerosis, seborrheic dermatitis, thin hair and impaired wound healing.16

Pertinent Insights On Specific Lower Extremity Skin And Nail Manifestations
Several skin and nail changes can be signs of an underlying nutritional deficiency. Recognition of these symptoms caused by nutritional deficiency can help aid in the diagnosis and subsequent treatment.

Pallor. Pallor results from decreased oxyhemoglobin in the skin. Severe anemia can lead to skin pallor. Anemia is associated with numerous nutritional deficiencies including iron deficiency, zinc deficiency, vitamin B12 deficiency, vitamin B6 deficiency and folate deficiency.

Impaired wound healing. Impaired wound healing can result from nutritional deficiencies, including protein, vitamin C and zinc deficiency. Protein-energy malnutrition can affect wound healing. Serum albumin and total lymphocyte count are valid tests of a patient’s protein nutrition status.25 Serum albumin levels less than 3.5 mg/dL and total lymphocyte counts less than 1,500/mm3 are associated with delayed wound healing.25 Researchers have shown that nutritional supplementation with protein dense oral supplements improves wound healing.26 Malnutrition with resulting zinc and vitamin C deficiency can also result in impaired wound healing. Zinc and vitamin C supplementation may aid in the wound healing process.27,28

Dermatitis. Dermatitis is characterized by itchy, erythematous, edematous, vesicular, weeping, flaking and crusting patches of skin. Protein, essential fatty acid, niacin (vitamin B3) and zinc deficiency can result in dermatitis.

(Video) 23 Signs Your Body Is Deficient in Nutrients

Seborrheic dermatitis. Seborrheic dermatitis is an inflammatory skin condition that causes erythema and flaky, white to yellowish scales to form on oily sebaceous gland rich areas, such as the scalp and nasolabial fold. Seborrheic dermatitis can be a symptom of vitamin B6, biotin and zinc deficiency.

When Vitamin And Nutritional Deficiencies Cause Skin And Nail Changes (6)Petechiae. Petechiae are small 1-2 mm red or purple spots on the skin that result from minor hemorrhage due to broken capillary blood vessels. Petechiae can result from both niacin (vitamin B3) and vitamin C deficiency.

Follicular hyperkeratosis. Follicular hyperkeratosis is a skin condition characterized by excessive development of keratin in hair follicles, resulting in red-brown follicular papules with a central keratotic plug. The follicle openings are often closed with a white plug of sebum. Several vitamin deficiencies can result in follicular hyperkeratosis including vitamin A, B and C deficiency.19,29 Several studies have shown that supplementation with vitamins and essential fatty acids can lead to improvement and resolution of this condition.29

Xerosis. Xerosis is abnormal dryness of the skin and mucous membrane. This condition is characterized by dry, scaling, itching, and cracking skin. Both vitamin A and zinc deficiency can result in xerosis.

Nail color changes. Nail plate discoloration can result from several nutritional deficiencies. Research has shown vitamin B12 deficiency to cause brown-gray nail discoloration.18 White nails can be the result of anemia and pink or red nails may suggest malnutrition with several nutrient and vitamin deficiencies.30 Additionally, biotin deficiency can increase the risk of fungal nail infections and subsequent nail plate discoloration.31

Changes in nail shape and surface. Nutritional deficiencies can cause several changes in the shape and surface of nail plates. A central nail plate ridge can arise from iron deficiency, folic acid deficiency or protein deficiency.30 A central nail groove can result from iron deficiency.30 Beads that appear to drip down the nail like wax are associated with vitamin B deficiencies.18 Koilonychia is associated with iron deficiency and protein deficiency, especially deficiency of sulfur-containing amino acids.32 Beau’s lines are transverse depressions in the nail plate caused by temporary cessation of nail growth. Researchers have proposed severe zinc deficiency as a cause of Beau’s lines.31,33

In Conclusion
Numerous skin and nail changes result from macronutrient and micronutrient deficiency. Recognizing these dermatologic symptoms associated with nutritional deficiencies can be an important diagnostic tool and lead to appropriate treatment.

(Video) Dr Berg-Identifying Nutritional Deficiencies Through Nails Skin Hair

Dr. Hoffman is in private practice in Boulder, Colo.


  1. Beers MH, Berkow R. Nutritional Disorders: Malnutrition. In: The Merck Manual, 17th Edition. Merck, Whitehouse Station, NJ, 1999, pp. 28-32.
  2. Jen M, Yan AC. Syndromes associated with nutritional deficiency and excess. Clin Dermatol. 2010;28(6):669-85.
  3. James W, Berger T, Elston. Andrews’ Diseases of the Skin: Clinical Dermatology, 10th Edition. Saunders, Philadelphia, 2005, pp. 468-477.
  4. Thompson J, Manore M, Sheeshka J. Nutrients involved in energy metabolism and blood health. In Bennett G, Swieg C, et al (eds.): Nutrition: A Functional Approach. Pearson, Canada, 2010, p. 353.
  5. Velazquez A. Biotin deficiency in protein-energy malnutrition: implications for nutritional homeostasis and individuality. Nutrition. 1997;13(11-12):991-12.
  6. Wolf B. Disorders of biotin metabolism. In Scriver CR, Beaudet AL, et al (eds.) The Metabolic & Molecular Bases Of Inherited Disease. McGraw-Hill, New York, 2001, pp. 3935-62.
  7. National Institutes of Health. NIH Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Folate. Available at https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/folate.asp . Published Dec. 14, 2012. Accessed Dec. 4, 2014.
  8. Antony AC. Megaloblastic anemias. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI (eds.): Cecil Medicine, 24th Edition, Chapter 167. Saunders Elsevier, Philadelphia, 2011.
  9. Bailey LB, Gregory JF. Folate. In: Bowman BA, Russell RM (eds.): Present Knowledge In Nutrition, Ninth Edition. ILSI Press, Washington, DC, 2006, pp. 278-301.
  10. Carmel R. Folic Acid. In: Shils M, Shike M, Ross A, Caballero B, Cousins R (eds.): Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Philadelphia, 2005, pp. 470-481.
  11. Pitche P. Pellagra. Sante. 2005; 15(3):205-8.
  12. Hegyi J, Schwartz RA, Hegyi V. Pellagra: Dermatitis, dementia, and diarrhea. Int J Dermat. 2004; 43(1):1a-5.
  13. Institute of Medicine (US) Standing Committee on the Scientific Evaluation of Dietary Reference Intakes and its Panel on Folate, Other B Vitamins, and Choline. Dietary Reference Intakes for Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Vitamin B12, Pantothenic Acid, Biotin, and Choline. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 1998. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK114310/ .
  14. McCormick D. Vitamin B6. In: Bowman B, Russell R (eds.): Present Knowledge in Nutrition, Ninth Edition. International Life Sciences Institute, Washington, DC, 2006, pp. 269-277.
  15. Mackey AD, Davis SR, Gregory JF, 3rd. Vitamin B6. In: Shils ME, Shike M, Ross AC, et al (eds.): Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease, 10th Edition. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Philadelphia, 2006, pp. 452-461.
  16. Yamada K. Cobalt: its role in health and disease. In Sigel A, Sigel H, Sigel RKO (eds.): Interrelations between Essential Metal Ions and Human Diseases. Metal Ions in Life Sciences, Chapter 13. Springer, Philadelphia, 2013, pp. 295-320.
  17. Sethi NK, Robilotti E, Sadan Y. Neurological manifestations of vitamin B-12 deficiency. J Nutrition Wellness. 2005; 2(1):32-38.
  18. Williams ME. Examining the fingernails when evaluating presenting symptoms in elderly patients: observing the nail shape and surface. Medscape Family Medicine. Available at https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/712251_2 . Published Nov. 3, 2009. Accessed Dec. 4, 2014.
  19. Schwartz RA, Centurion SA, Gascon P, et al. Dermatologic manifestations of vitamin A deficiency clinical presentation. Medscape. Available at https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1104441-overview . Published June 27, 2014. Accessed Dec. 4, 2014.
  20. Roncone DP. Xerophthalmia secondary to alcohol-induced malnutrition. Optometry. 2006;77(3):124-33.
  21. Weinstein M, Babyn P, Zlotkin S. An orange a day keeps the doctor away: scurvy in the year 2000. Pediatrics. 2001;108(3):E55.
  22. Wang AH, Still C. Old world meets modern: a case report of scurvy. Nutr Clin Pract. 2007;22(4):445-8.
  23. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Iron deficiency — United States, 1999–2000. Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2002; 51(40):897-99.
  24. Yamada T, Alpers DH, et al. Textbook of Gastroenterology, Fifth Edition. Blackwell Pub, Hoboken, NJ, 2009, pp. 495, 498, 499, 1274, 2526.
  25. Dickhaut SC, DeLee JC, Page CP. Nutritional status: importance in predicting wound-healing after amputation. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 1984;66(1):71-75.
  26. Collins CE, Kershaw J, Brockington B. Effect of nutritional supplements on wound healing in home-nursed elderly: A randomized trial. Nutrition. 2005;21(2):147-155.
  27. Lansdown ABG, Mirastschijski U, Stubbs N, et al. Zinc in wound healing: Theoretical, experimental, and clinical aspects. Wound Repair Regen. 2007;15(1):2–16.
  28. Desneves KJ, Todorovic BE, Cassar A, Crowe TC. Treatment with supplementary arginine, vitamin C and zinc in patients with pressure ulcers: a randomized control trial. Clinical Nutrition. 2005;24(6),979-987.
  29. Nadiger, HA. Role of vitamin E in the aetiology of phrynoderma (follicular hyperkeratosis) and its interrelationship with B-complex vitamins. Br J Nutrition. 1980; 44(3):211:80
  30. Williams ME. The hands and wrists. In: Geriatric Physical Diagnosis: A Guide to Observation and Assessment, Chapter 5. McFarland & Co., Jefferson, NC, 2008, pp. 48-66.
  31. Singh G. Nail changes and disorders in elderly. Sacchidanand S, Savitha AS (eds.): Nail and Its Disorders, Chapter 6. Jaypee Brothers Medical, London, 2013, pp. 221-237.
  32. Fawcett RS, Lindford S, Stulberg DL. Nail abnormalities: clues to systemic disease. Am Fam Physician. 2004;69(6):1417-1424.
  33. Seshadri D, De D. Nails in nutritional deficiencies. Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol. 2012;78(3):237-41.


What does vitamin deficiency nails look like? ›

If you have a vitamin or mineral deficiency, it can show up as dry, cracked, brittle, and irregularly shaped nails.

What vitamin deficiency affects the skin? ›

A Vitamin B deficiency can wreak havoc on your skin, causing acne, rashes, dry and flaky skin, cracked lips, and wrinkles. It can also make your skin more sensitive to sunlight, personal care products, and other potential aggressors, and can accordingly lead to redness and irritation.

How does vitamin D deficiency affect nails? ›

Vitamin D regulates calcium levels in the body which is an essential contributor to having healthy nails. If you find yourself with brittle and weak nails, it could mean a lack of Vitamin D.

Can B12 deficiency affect your nails? ›

Vitamin-B12 deficiency can present with glossitis, pigmentary changes of nails, hairs, and skin or more serious features like megaloblastic anemia and neuropsychiatric symptoms. [2] Neuropsychiatric features, though rare, can become irreversible in severe and prolonged deficiency.

What do nails look like with zinc deficiency? ›

Leukonychia (loo-ko-nee-key-uh) is a condition of white marks on the nails. There are two types: 1) Punctata – these are white spots on the nails. 2) Striata – these are horizontal white lines across the nail bed. The spots are associated with a zinc deficiency.

What does zinc deficiency look like? ›

What are the symptoms of zinc deficiency? Zinc deficiency can result in skin changes that look like eczema at first. There may be cracks and a glazed appearance on the skin, often found around the mouth, nappy area and hands. The rash doesn't get better with moisturisers or steroid creams or lotions.

What does vitamin D deficient skin look like? ›

If you're lacking in vitamin D, your skin may tell on you. For example, if you're not getting enough vitamin D, your complexion might be dull, lacking that desired glow and you might also experience dry, flaky skin on your face and other areas of your body.

Does B12 deficiency affect skin? ›

Symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency

If you have anaemia caused by a vitamin B12 deficiency, you may have other symptoms, such as: a pale yellow tinge to your skin. a sore and red tongue (glossitis) mouth ulcers.

Can lack of vitamin D cause skin problems? ›

Vitamin D deficiency is associated with the risk of psoriasis and atopic dermatitis, and several clinical/observational studies have suggested the beneficial effect of vitamin D in the therapy of these 2 inflammatory skin disorders.

What does iron deficiency nails look like? ›

Spoon nails (koilonychia) are soft nails that look scooped out. The depression usually is large enough to hold a drop of liquid. Often, spoon nails are a sign of iron deficiency anemia or a liver condition known as hemochromatosis, in which your body absorbs too much iron from the food you eat.

Does lack of calcium affect nails? ›

When your body lacks calcium, your nails become thinner, weaker, and brittle. You may notice that they break easily and just don't look as healthy as they used to. Although nails and bones are made up of different substances, they're similar enough that poor nail health may be an early marker of bone density problems.

How does malnutrition affect the nails? ›

Nail plate discoloration can result from several nutritional deficiencies. Research has shown vitamin B12 deficiency to cause brown-gray nail discoloration. White nails can be the result of anemia and pink or red nails may suggest malnutrition with several nutrient and vitamin deficiencies.

What are the symptoms of very low B12? ›

Key points about vitamin B12 deficiency anemia

Without enough oxygen, your body can't work as well. Symptoms include weak muscles, numbness, trouble walking, nausea, weight loss, irritability, fatigue, and increased heart rate. Treatment may include vitamin B12 supplements.

How do you know if your body is low on B12? ›

Symptoms of Vitamin B12 Deficiency

Weakness, tiredness, or lightheadedness. Heart palpitations and shortness of breath. Pale skin. A smooth tongue.

What vitamin deficiency can cause nail problems? ›

Weak nails might also be associated with a deficiency in B vitamins, calcium, iron, or fatty acids.

Does magnesium deficiency affect nails? ›

Magnesium is a mineral involved in over 300 reactions in your body, including protein synthesis, which is required for nail growth ( 10 ). Vertical ridges in your nails may be a sign of a magnesium deficiency.

What are the symptoms of copper deficiency? ›

Many people do not get enough copper in their diet, but it is rare to be truly deficient in copper. Signs of possible copper deficiency include anemia, low body temperature, bone fractures and osteoporosis, low white blood cell count, irregular heartbeat, loss of pigment from the skin, and thyroid problems.

Can fingernails show signs of illness? ›

If your nails turn yellow, thicken, and seem to stop growing, it could be a sign of something going on inside your body. Lung disease and rheumatoid arthritis can cause yellow nails. You may also have a serious nail infection, which requires treatment.

How do you know if your magnesium is low? ›

What are the symptoms of magnesium deficiency symptoms?
  1. loss of appetite.
  2. nausea and vomiting.
  3. fatigue and weakness.
  4. shaking.
  5. pins and needles.
  6. muscle spasms.
  7. hyperexcitability.
  8. sleepiness.

What are the symptoms of low vitamin B6? ›

Vitamin B6 deficiency is associated with microcytic anemia, electroencephalographic abnormalities, dermatitis with cheilosis (scaling on the lips and cracks at the corners of the mouth) and glossitis (swollen tongue), depression and confusion, and weakened immune function [1,2].

What depletes zinc in the body? ›

Exercising, high alcohol intake, and diarrhea all increase loss of zinc from the body.

What are the eight signs of a vitamin D deficiency? ›

Here are 8 signs and symptoms of vitamin D deficiency.
  • Getting Sick or Infected Often. ...
  • Fatigue and Tiredness. ...
  • Bone and Back Pain. ...
  • Depression. ...
  • Impaired Wound Healing. ...
  • Bone Loss. ...
  • Hair Loss. ...
  • Muscle Pain.
13 Aug 2020

How do I know if I'm deficient in vitamin D? ›

The most accurate way to measure how much vitamin D is in your body is the 25-hydroxy vitamin D blood test. A level of 20 nanograms/milliliter to 50 ng/mL is considered adequate for healthy people. A level less than 12 ng/mL indicates vitamin D deficiency.

What happens if B12 deficiency is left untreated? ›

If left untreated, the symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency tend to worsen and irreversible problems involving the nerves and brain may develop. The risk of experiencing a number of serious complications, including heart failure, may also increase.

Why do I suddenly have a B12 deficiency? ›

Some people can develop a vitamin B12 deficiency as a result of not getting enough vitamin B12 from their diet. A diet that includes meat, fish and dairy products usually provides enough vitamin B12, but people who do not regularly eat these foods can become deficient.

What happens when you don't have enough vitamin B12? ›

Your body needs vitamin B12 to make red blood cells. Vitamin B12 insufficiency may cause the following early symptoms of mild anemia: Fatigue, lack of energy, or lightheadedness when standing up or with exertion. Shortness of breath, mostly during exercise.

Can calcium deficiency cause skin problems? ›

Calcium deficiency for the long term can lead to dry skin, dry and brittle nails, coarse hair, eczema, skin inflammation, skin itchiness and psoriasis.

Which parts of the body are affected most by lack of vitamin D? ›

Vitamin D deficiency can lead to a loss of bone density, which can contribute to osteoporosis and fractures (broken bones). Severe vitamin D deficiency can also lead to other diseases. In children, it can cause rickets. Rickets is a rare disease that causes the bones to become soft and bend.

How long does it take to recover from vitamin D deficiency? ›

Official answer. Generally, it takes a few weeks of taking daily vitamin D supplements for vitamin D levels in the body to rise. Each 1,000 IU of vitamin D3 taken daily is expected to raise blood levels of 25(OD)D by 10 ng/ml after a few weeks.

What does diabetic nails look like? ›

In some people with diabetes, the nails take on a yellowish hue. Often this coloring has to do with the breakdown of sugar and its effect on the collagen in nails. This kind of yellowing isn't harmful. It doesn't need to be treated.

When white spots appear on the nails but do not indicate disease? ›

Leukonychia is a condition where white lines or dots appear on the fingernails or toenails. This is a very common issue, and it's entirely harmless. Leukonychia is classified into two types: True leukonychia originates in the matrix of the nail, the part of the nail that's responsible for nail production.

Does Low iron affect hair and nails? ›

Iron plays an important role in producing hemoglobin, an essential metalloprotein that your body uses to transport oxygen in blood. When your iron levels are low, it becomes harder to transport oxygen to important cells, such as the cells that stimulate the growth of your nails and hair.

What does calcium deficiency nails look like? ›

Brittle, weak, or slow-growing nails may indicate a calcium deficiency. However, more common causes include frequently wetting and drying the nails and other nutritional deficiencies.

What are the symptoms of too little calcium? ›

Severe symptoms of hypocalcemia include:
  • confusion or memory loss.
  • muscle spasms.
  • numbness and tingling in the hands, feet, and face.
  • depression.
  • hallucinations.
  • muscle cramps.
  • weak and brittle nails.
  • easy fracturing of the bones.

How do I know if Im lacking in calcium? ›

Early signs of a calcium deficiency include:
  1. weakness.
  2. fatigue.
  3. muscle cramps or spasms.
  4. numbness or tingling, particularly in the fingertips and jawline.
  5. muscle spasms mainly in the hands.
  6. weak or brittle fingernails.
  7. fainting.
  8. difficulty swallowing.
19 Oct 2020

What are 4 signs of malnutrition? ›

Other symptoms of malnutrition include:
  • reduced appetite.
  • lack of interest in food and drink.
  • feeling tired all the time.
  • feeling weaker.
  • getting ill often and taking a long time to recover.
  • wounds taking a long time to heal.
  • poor concentration.
  • feeling cold most of the time.

What are the three most common signs of malnutrition? ›

Signs and symptoms of malnutrition

a low body weight – people with a body mass index (BMI) under 18.5 are at risk of being malnourished (use the BMI calculator to work out your BMI) a lack of interest in eating and drinking. feeling tired all the time. feeling weak.

Does protein deficiency affect nails? ›

Hair, Nail, and Skin Problems

These are made up of proteins like elastin, collagen, and keratin. When your body can't make them, you could have brittle or thinning hair, dry and flaky skin, and deep ridges on your fingernails.

What is the fastest way to fix B12 deficiency? ›

How to raise your B12 levels fast. The most common way to treat B12 deficiencies is by adjusting your diet. If this is unsuccessful, vitamin supplements may be recommended. If you're looking to boost the amount of vitamin B12 in your diet, you should eat more animal products, like meat, seafood, dairy and eggs.

Which fruit is rich in vitamin B12? ›

Fruits like apples, bananas, blueberries and oranges are some fruits that are high in vitamin B12.

What are 5 deficiency diseases? ›

The five most important deficiency diseases are:
  • Anaemia. Anaemia by iron deficiency. ...
  • Endemic goitre. Enlargement of the thyroid gland (at the front of the neck) by a deficit of iodine (hypothyroid). ...
  • Kwashiorkor. ...
  • Marasmus. ...
  • Vitamin A deficiency. ...
  • Other vitamins. ...
  • Vitamin B1. ...
  • The vitamin B2 complex.

What food is highest in B12? ›

Vitamin B12 is a key nutrient that your body needs for many essential functions. It's found in large amounts in animal products, fortified foods, and dietary supplements. Some of the richest sources are liver, beef, sardines, clams, and dairy products.

What cancers cause folic acid deficiency? ›

Folic acid deficiency in humans has been linked with megaloblastic anaemia, neural tube defects in the neonate, and heart disease. Folate has also been implicated in the development of cancer, especially cancer of the colorectum.

Does lack of vitamin D cause nail problems? ›

Vitamin D regulates calcium levels in the body which is an essential contributor to having healthy nails. If you find yourself with brittle and weak nails, it could mean a lack of Vitamin D.

Does vitamin D affect your fingernails? ›

Previous studies indicate that fingernail thickness correlates with vitamin D status and may therefore provide a simple cost effective procedure to not only identify patients with vitamin D deficiency but also, those with vitamin D resistance.

How does zinc deficiency affect the nails? ›

Zinc enables proteins in the body to grow and remain strong. This includes proteins in the nails. A 2013 article suggests that without enough zinc, the rate of nail growth decreases, and the nails themselves become fragile and brittle, causing them to crack.

What do anemic fingernails look like? ›

Spoon nails (koilonychia) are soft nails that look scooped out. The depression usually is large enough to hold a drop of liquid. Often, spoon nails are a sign of iron deficiency anemia or a liver condition known as hemochromatosis, in which your body absorbs too much iron from the food you eat.

What does calcium deficiency look like in nails? ›

When your body lacks calcium, your nails become thinner, weaker, and brittle. You may notice that they break easily and just don't look as healthy as they used to. Although nails and bones are made up of different substances, they're similar enough that poor nail health may be an early marker of bone density problems.

What do calcium deficient nails look like? ›

Brittle, weak, or slow-growing nails may indicate a calcium deficiency. However, more common causes include frequently wetting and drying the nails and other nutritional deficiencies.

What are at least 5 signs of vitamin A deficiency in our bodies? ›

Symptoms of a Vitamin A Deficiency
  • Night blindness. This causes you to have trouble seeing in low light. ...
  • Xerophthalmia. With this condition, the eyes may become very dry and crusted, which may damage the cornea and retina.
  • Infection. ...
  • Bitot spots. ...
  • Skin irritation. ...
  • Keratomalacia. ...
  • ‌Keratinisation. ...
  • Stunted growth.
12 Apr 2021

What are three 3 Signs of anemia? ›

  • Fatigue.
  • Weakness.
  • Pale or yellowish skin.
  • Irregular heartbeats.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness.
  • Chest pain.
  • Cold hands and feet.
11 Feb 2022

What are the symptoms of very low calcium? ›

Some of the symptoms of hypocalcemia include:
  • Twitching in your hands, face, and feet.
  • Numbness.
  • Tingling.
  • Depression.
  • Memory loss.
  • Scaly skin.
  • Changes in the nails.
  • Rough hair texture.
21 Jun 2021

How do you know if you are deficient in magnesium? ›

What are the symptoms of magnesium deficiency symptoms?
  1. loss of appetite.
  2. nausea and vomiting.
  3. fatigue and weakness.
  4. shaking.
  5. pins and needles.
  6. muscle spasms.
  7. hyperexcitability.
  8. sleepiness.

What diseases affect your nails? ›

Skin diseases such as psoriasis, eczema (dermatitis), lichen planus or lupus can affect the nails. Abnormalities may include pits, grooves or crumbling nails.

How long does it take to correct a vitamin deficiency? ›

Based on current research, it usually takes 1-3 months of consistent supplementation to correct a vitamin deficiency. If you're severely deficient in a vitamin, it may take longer to restore optimal levels. Keep in mind, there isn't a catch-all answer for how long it takes vitamins to kick in.

What is the most common vitamin deficiency? ›

Iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency worldwide and is one of the leading factors contributing to the global burden of disease. Iron deficiency can also lead to anemia, a blood condition that results in fatigue, weakness, dizziness, and low immune support.

What are the 4 stages of vitamin deficiency? ›

Stages in the Development of a Nutrient Deficiency
  • Adequacy.
  • Negative Balance.
  • Decline in Tissue Stores.
  • Loss of Function: Symptoms of Deficiency. Signs of Deficiency. Organ Failure.
  • Death.


1. What do Your Nails Say About Your Health & Nutrition? – Dr.Berg
(Dr. Eric Berg DC)
2. Identifying Nutritional Deficiencies Through Nails, Skin and Hair
(Project Truism)
3. Vitamin Deficiencies Cause Serious Diseases
(Dr. Eric Berg DC)
4. 26 Signs Your Body is Deficient in VITAL Nutrients *life changing*
(Kayla Chandler)
5. 14 Signs That Indicate You Have A Nutritional Deficiency
6. The 6 Causes of Skin, Nails, Hair & Muscles Problems – Dr. Berg
(Dr. Eric Berg DC)
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