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white spots on fingernails

Possible cause: Zinc or selenium deficiency

If you have white spots on only one fingernail, you may have injured the base of the nail weeks earlier. But a scattering of white dots on the nail beds (leukonychia) is another classic sign of zinc deficiency, says Stone, as well as low levels of selenium. “So, again, you have to put the symptom in the company it keeps,” he notes.

Zinc deficiency has been connected to poor wound healing, depression, and weak immunity, among other things. Selenium deficiency can make us more vulnerable to oxidative stress.

What you can do: If you have several spots on your fingernails or toenails and suspect a deficiency, P. Michael Stone, MD, MS, a family physician who practices functional medicine in Ashland, Ore., and is a faculty member at the Institute for Functional Medicine, suggests eating more zinc-rich foods (like eggs, grassfed beef, and oysters) and taking supplements.

Lentils are a good plant-based source of zinc, he notes, but be sure to add lemon or lime to increase the absorption of the mineral. “Without this, the zinc in lentils is only about 8 percent bioavailable,” he says.

Foods rich in selenium include Brazil nuts and oysters.

This was excerpted from “What Your Body Is Trying to Tell You, Part 2” which was published in the April 2016 issue of Experience Life.

Anjula Razdan

Anjula Razdan is Experience Life‘s digital director.

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