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Immunity, Lifestyle, Longevity
Jill Armijo, PTA, CHC
November 15, 2022
Jill Armijo, PTA, CHC
What Deficiencies Cause Brittle Nails?
It's never enjoyable to look at your nails and realize one or more of them has broken.
For some people, it seems like brittle nails are just a fact of life.
However, this doesn't have to be the case. Sometimes specific deficiencies cause problems with your nails, but proper nutritional support and good habits can help resolve these problems (1).
What Deficiencies Cause Brittle Nails?
Our bodies need the right building blocks to function properly.
That includes the necessary vitamins and minerals for growing healthy nails. Every person is different and will have different nail lengths and thicknesses, but typically, you should have strong nails that do not break or crack easily. If you have such issues with your nails, you may be missing some of the nutrients your body needs to grow strong nails.
Calcium deficiency is a potential culprit when it comes to brittle nails.
You may think of calcium as an important nutrient for your bones, but it also plays a role in your nails.
When you don't have enough calcium, you might notice your nails get thin and brittle over time (2).
Thankfully, it's pretty easy to fix this.
Many foods contain this essential nutrient, and you can easily find supplements to boost your calcium intake and absorption.
Iron is another nutrient not often associated with nails but still affects their strength and health.
A lack of iron can lead to anemia, and a commonly overlooked symptom of anemia is brittle nails.
This is because iron helps your blood deliver oxygen throughout the body.
When you don't have enough iron, your nails won't get the oxygen they need and could become weaker.
When you address an iron deficiency, watch out for low vitamin B12 levels.
This vitamin helps the body absorb iron, so they work together to support your health.
A lack of this vitamin could lead to weak nails for the same reasons the lack of iron does. Supplementing with both at the same time could help improve the quality of your nails and overall health.
Another B vitamin that can help your brittle nails is folate. This nutrient helps with blood cell formation, which is important for good circulation and oxygenation.
Your nails will benefit from improved oxygen levels and are less likely to be brittle when you have the recommended folate levels in your system.
Your nails are made of the protein keratin, so it makes sense that you need a healthy amount of protein in your body to maintain strong nails.
When you have enough protein, your body has the resources it needs to grow your nails and make them thick.
If you lack protein, your body may need to prioritize muscle production or other needs, resulting in brittle nails.
Vitamin C has a great reputation for supporting your immune system, but it can also help you maintain strong nails.
This vitamin helps your body make collagen, a key component of your nails, skin, and hair (3).
Getting healthy levels of vitamin C can help your nails remain strong and supple instead of brittle.
Most imbalances and deficiencies in the body can take a toll on the nails.
A lack of fats, minerals, and other nutrients can leave your nails thin and easily broken.
Anytime you see a change in your nails, you should go to your doctor and get your nutrient levels tested to know what you need to add to your system (4).
The Risks of Brittle Nails
Having weak nails may seem superficial, but it is a health risk. Weak nails break easily, and that can cause injury (5).
A nail break that goes past the tip and hits the soft tissue of the finger is very painful.
Your nails are also meant to be a layer of protection on your body, so it's important to maintain their integrity.
Brittle nails increase the risk of infection from germs and fungus, and problems underneath your nails can be tough to treat.
It's better to keep your nails strong and fight off problems before they ever start.
Fingernails help with how your fingers grip things and are useful tools.
Keeping them strong will make sure they work as they should without the risk of breaking at inconvenient times. These are all reasons that you should take nail problems seriously.
Other Factors That Lead to Brittle Nails
Your nails may become weak due to other factors as well.
The most common is a moisture imbalance. Your nails are a natural material, so they respond to changes in water levels.
A repeated cycle of your nails soaking up water and then drying will leave the nail brittle.
This can be a problem for people who spend a lot of time swimming or working with water.
Cleaning chemicals can also dry out nails and leave them fragile.
The harsh substances can dry out the nail bed, leaving it unable to restore the proper moisture to the nail.
Protect your hands by using gloves when cleaning and limit your exposure to cleaners.
Your nail care routine may lead to brittle nails as well.
Acetone and other nail polish removers can severely dry out the nails.
Repeated use will make the problem worse. If possible, take a break from using these products and let your nails grow out to heal.
Getting Help With Brittle Nails
Your nails are important to your quality of life, so ensure they are healthy.
When your body lacks the necessary vitamins and minerals, your nails can suffer.
Adding these important nutrients to your system can help restore brittle nails to the strength and thickness they should have.
If you want to improve your nails or other parts of your health, check out the products from Clinical Effects (6).
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