Our fingernails, along with our tendons, joints, hair and skin are made from collagen, a group of naturally occurring proteins that strengthen the connective tissues of our body.
If our nails are weak or problematic, they are a communication from inside the body to the outside, and represent a reflection of our nutritional status and the overall quality of our health. Their communication can bring to our attention deficiencies in essential nutrients. They can also reflect environmental chemical exposures, as well.
To improve the quality and health of our nails, we first need to understand their constitution and chemistry. The nutrient calcium is an essential component of healthy nails and is often deficient in dry and brittle nails. Low levels of fat-soluble vitamins in addition to a deficiency in “good fats”, which are part of the metabolism of collagen, may also be missing or deficient.
Another issue may be low thyroid function, especially if the hair and skin are dry. Thyroid function is directly connected to the deposition of protein into our connective tissues and our nail beds.
Iron deficiency can produce pale, thin nails. Vitamin B and C deficiencies can be contributing factors to shredding, weak nails. Often if there is a digestive problem, which includes a lack of hydrochloric acid and pepsinogen, poor eating and absorption, vertical nail ridges can be found. Zinc and mineral deficiencies can create white spotting in the nail beds, along with chronic nail crack patterns and damage.
External factors can include exposure to household chemicals when cleaning without gloves, exposure to garden chemicals, handyman repairs, cleaning or dying or clothes or rugs and upholstery. Excess use of nail polish remover is another culprit. An interesting fact is that repeated exposure to water is the number external cause of dry brittle nails.
When we understand how our fingernails tell the story about our internal nutritional and metabolic status, we can immediately address and correct the problem by choosing higher quality foods that are rich in calcium, minerals, vitamins B and C and omega-3 fatty acids. Fresh fruits, vegetables, cold-water fish, whole grains and beans are excellent choices to help eliminate nail weakness and splitting.
The best way to healthy, beautiful nails is through a healthy, beautiful diet.
With all good wishes,
Copyright 2010 G. Donadio