Both hair and nails have living parts, but those living parts are beneath the skin. Hair and nails grow out from a matrix, which for our hair turns into our hair follicle; for our nails it is the nail bed or nail plate. Audrey Sivasothy says, “Cells grow out from the matrix, and older cells eventually are pushed out by newer cells growing in. The newer cells cause the older cells to become compacted, and as the cells are further removed from their blood supply, they form keratin proteins and begin to harden into the hair fiber, or nail, that we see.” Hair and nails are the results and are known as keratinization, which is what makes our hair and nails grow.
Health and Hair Growth
Our hair and nails are quite telling of our health, and doctors can often tell the health of a person by the condition of either. Many diseases will and can cause hair loss as well as dry, brittle, dotted, yellow, or irregular nails. Livestrong attributes healthy nails to a healthy thyroid, healthy kidneys, and balanced hormones. Poor blood circulation, malnutrition, and some medications slow down the growth rates of your nails and hair. Diseases or treatments for them (e.g. chemotherapy) can negatively affect your hair and nail growth too.
Honestly, there are several factors that contribute to the growth of both your nails and hair like sex, age, diet, exercise, and even the time of year. Sivasothy also shares that summer is the fastest time for nail and hair growth, yet scientists do not understand why. Before children hit puberty they have nails that heal and grow back much faster than adults. How Stuff Works says that men’s nails and hair grow faster than women’s, except during pregnancy when there is a hormonal boost of metabolism and blood circulation. New keratin is created and supported by numerous types of nutrients and eating a diet high in protein (e.g. meat and leafy greens), which your body to breaks down into amino acids and redistributes throughout the body. Remember, you are what you eat.
Did You Know...
Some funny facts about nail growth are that nails grow faster on the hand that is most dominant or used more often, pinkie nails grow the slowest, and index fingernails grow the fastest. Fingernails grow about four times faster than toenails and adult nails will grow about one-tenth of an inch a month according to How Stuff Works. And as you may have guessed by now, hair grows much faster than fingernails and toenails with about ¼ to ½ in a month or 6 in a year. Hair grows faster than other tissues in the body other than bone marrow.
There are tons of products on the market that claim to boost your hair and nail growth, and most have proteins like biotin and B6 and will strengthen your hair and nails, whether it is consumed through a pill or a meal. Livestrong emphasizes that sulfur in the body will produce keratin and vitamin A to help your body absorb protein correctly and aid in the physical composition of your hair and nails. Vitamin C, B2, B7 and vitamin E all aid in healthy tissue and will make your hair stronger, healthier, and grow at amazing rates; all of which can be found in foods instead of a supplement. I am not knocking supplements at all, as I use them, but never underestimate the power of eating right and exercising.
Hair grows faster than nails but for maximum growth and strength stay healthy, stay young (at heart), and keep eating those veggies!