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Vegan Nutrition with Marty Davey
I have two girls. One is two years old the other is four. They are both raised vegan. I have always been careful with their nutrition, but I noticed that their big toes nails have vertical ridges and are very brittle and crack very easily. Is there a mineral or a vitamin missing in their diet?
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The main culprits for brittle nails is a deficiency in Biotin, otherwise known as Vitamin H, and Iron. Two oft quoted studies showed these results, although the jury is still out. Your daughters need a daily dose of 8, and 12 mcg of Biotin, respectively.
Below is a list of Biotin sources from Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine:
Nuts and soybeans are rich sources of biotin. See table for dietary sources of biotin.
Biotin deficiencies are rare because it is ubiquitous in food. However, lotions with biotin or silicone have been seen to improve nails. As well as intake of biotin of 2.5 mg per day for an adult. I'm not sure you want to subject your children to this. Biotin is a B-vitamin, and therefore, water soluble. This generally means that any extra will be eliminated via urine and not build up in the body.
Hydration is also an issue with nails according to the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology. They state that low hydration can be seen in cracked nails. Also, additional selenium intake has been used to strengthen nails.
Spoon-shaped nails are related to an iron deficiency. This is different than brittle nails. If you are concerned about your children's intake of iron, you can have them tested. A simple blood test will show. If you are economically stressed, you may qualify for WIC, a government program for women, infants and children. They will administer the test for free.
You could use an online program such as Nano Nutritionist.com or Sparkpeople.com to track your kids' iron and water intake, if you feel that would put your mind at ease. For what you are doing, you could use the no-cost part of the sites. Nano Nutritionist can hook you up with a dietitian for a monthly fee, should you feel the need. [DISCLAIMER: I have been employed by Nano Nutritionist.]
If you find that the intake is low in iron, lentils are an excellent source of iron. The USDA website, http://www.ars.usda.gov/Main/docs.htm?docid=15869, is a terrific reference for finding the top vegan sources for iron.
When you get your daughters' nails in order, remember there are vegan polishes for any mani or pedi they desire.
Get your own personal nutrition consultation with Marty here.
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