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“What do white spots on my nails mean?”

Naturopath Elle Fox answers for CNM (College of Naturopathic Medicine)

The odd white spot on your nails is likely to have been caused by a small bump or knock to the nail or nail bed. However, if you have many of these spots, across the nails of both hands, you may find they resolve by increasing your zinc intake.

Lower zinc levels are associated with other skin complaints like cold sores, acne and warts as well as poor wound healing. If you suffer from any of these, you can boost your intake of zinc-rich foods by including organic, free-range meat and eggs, chickpeas, lentils and beans, oysters and all seeds, especially pumpkin and sesame seeds.

Children often have such white spots, both because they tend to have more minor accidents involving their hands and also because good levels of zinc are needed for optimal health and ‘growth spurts’ – especially approaching and during puberty. Children generally suffer more from warts and verrucae too, so if you’re concerned your child might need a boost, try tahini (if not sensitive to sesame seeds), hummus made with fermented chickpeas and pesto made with pumpkin seeds. Organic egg yolks, if tolerated, are wonderfully nutritious.

Better not feed children oysters. Excess supplemental zinc (over 50mg/day) may cause gastric upset, and copper and iron compete with zinc for absorption, so best consult your naturopath for individual targeted advice.

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