When you think of iron deficiency, you might picture someone who is pale and has spoons for fingers. But it turns out that one of the first signs of this nutritional deficiency may be far more subtle: fingernails that look scooped out.
Iron is a mineral that’s vital to our health. It helps our bodies make hemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen from our lungs to the rest of our body. When we don’t have enough iron, our bodies can’t produce enough hemoglobin, and we can become Iron deficient.
One of the early signs of iron deficiency is called koilonychia, or spoon nails. This is when your nails start to look concave, or scooped out, and they may be large enough to hold a drop of liquid. If you have spoon nails, it’s a good idea to get your iron levels checked by a doctor.
Although iron deficiency is fairly common, it’s easily treatable. If you are found to be deficient, your doctor will likely recommend that you take an iron supplement. With treatment, your fingernails should return to their normal shape.
A new study has found that iron deficiency may be signalled by flattened and/or scooped out fingernails. The study, conducted by researchers at the Cleveland Clinic in the US, looked at the fingernails of 50 patients with iron deficiency anaemia and found that 36% of them had spoon-shaped nails.
While the condition is not harmful, it can be a sign that iron levels in the body are low and that anaemia is present. The team says that the findings could help doctors to diagnose iron deficiency anaemia earlier, as the fingernails are easily visible and can be checked during a routine physical examination.
Iron deficiency anaemia is a condition in which there is not enough iron in the body to produce red blood cells. This can lead to fatigue, shortness of breath and other symptoms. The condition is most common in women of childbearing age, but it can affect people of all ages.
If you have scooped out fingernails, or any other concerns about your iron levels, speak to your doctor.