As I wrote on December 31, I think some of my weird fingernail problems are a result of anemia causing a disorder called koilonychia. The nails that are concave (right thumbnail in particular) look very much like other images of koilonychia that I’ve seen.
The Wikipedia page for anemia mentions that 15mg of supplemental iron is sometimes enough to treat anemia so I’ve been experimenting by consistently taking my supplements, which includes a multi-vitamin that contains 10mg of iron. I started taking the supplements on December 30, the day before I made the earlier post on the subject. The results were visible, if only slightly, very quickly.
First, how do fingernails grow? From MedicineNet.com:
A fingernail is produced by living skin cells in the finger. A fingernail consists of several parts including the nail plate (the visible part of the nail), the nail bed (the skin beneath the nail plate), the cuticle (the tissue that overlaps the plate and rims the base of the nail), the nail folds (the skin folds that frame and support the nail on three sides), the lunula (the whitish half-moon at the base of the nail) and the matrix (the hidden part of the nail unit under the cuticle).
Fingernails grow from the matrix. The nails are composed largely of keratin, a hardened protein (that is also in skin and hair). As new cells grow in the matrix, the older cells are pushed out, compacted and take on the familiar flattened, hardened form of the fingernail.
(Also see How do fingernails grow? from Cool Quiz.)
By January 1 (after three days of taking my supplements), I could could feel a marked raise in the material that was coming out of the matrix on my right thumbnail, something that hadn’t happened for weeks. That raised area is now about a quarter of the way down the nail bed, showing a definite difference and improvement in the shape of the nail over what is already there. It’s still a little too soon to tell what the ultimate effect will be but it certainly looks as if supplementing is helping. It obviously won’t be scientifically conclusive if anemia was the cuplrit, as iron isn’t the only supplement — I’m also taking salmon oil, flax seed, calcium, glucosamine, evening primrose, a B complex, and some other vitamins — but, given the symptoms and treatment of Koilonychia versus my own results, I believe that the iron deficiency was a primary culprit. If you’re suffering from the same problems, it’s worth a try.