Dealing with brittle fingernails and toenails can really be frustrating. Brittle nails chip, split, break, and seem impossible to grow out.
There are some things you can do to help brittle nails, however.
What Causes Brittle Nails?
Diet plays a significant role in fingernail health. There are some dietary deficiencies that can result in brittle nails.
Vitamins A, C, and the B vitamins are implicated in nail health. Calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc play significant roles in the health of nails as well. Be sure your diet includes lots of leafy greens, citrus fruits, fresh vegetables, and lean meats to obtain these nutrients. Including whole grains is important, too.
Nails are made from a protein called keratin. Not getting enough protein in your diet can make your nails weak. Choose healthy proteins such as lean meat, whole grain and bean combinations, and fatty fish such as salmon. Fish oils and other healthy fats are also helpful for fixing brittle nails.
Brittle nails can also be caused by excessive submersion in water. Try wearing gloves when you are washing dishes or otherwise getting your hands wet. The same would hold true for toenails; wear water-resistant footwear whenever it is applicable.
Fixing Brittle Nails
Go heavy on the moisturizer, and massage it into the nails as often as possible. Try to find moisturizer that is thick and penetrating. Avoid artificial nail treatments such having as acrylic tips or whole nails put on, and avoid nail polish and nail polish remover.
Try soaking your nails in warm oil for 10-20 minutes each day. Use olive, almond, evening primrose, or other healthy oils. Break open and add a Vitamin E capsule to the soaking oil for an extra healing boost.
At night, moisturize your nails thoroughly, massaging the moisturizer in, and use petroleum jelly or other thick moisturizer. Then slip thin cotton gloves on before going to sleep. Archival gloves – thin, cotton gloves used by historians and other scholars for handling rare and valuable books and manuscripts – are perfect for this.
In addition to the suggestions above, you might consider supplements:
This vitamin is found in many of the foods noted above, but can also be taken in supplement form. It is often a component of multivitamins, too.
Studies are inconclusive, but 10 mg. of silicon a day has been shown to help brittle nails.
This herb is a natural source of silicon, and is purported to help brittle nails.
Supplementing with fish oil can be helpful for skin, hair and nails. Please note that brittle nails can indicate a more serious, underlying medical condition, such as hypothyroidism. If you are afflicted with persistent brittle nails, consider seeing your doctor.