Fingernail Health – Nutrition for Dry, Brittle Nails

Do you have brittle nails and skin? Do you find cleaning your nails, feet, and cuticles challenging? Have you been trying different methods to eliminate the problem without much success? If so, your nail health may be due to a deficiency in particular nutrients.

Nutrition is vital in ensuring that all bodily functions are operating at their peak efficiency. This is especially important for those with compromised or impaired functioning systems, such as the digestive, immune, and nervous systems. In this blog, we'll look at how nutrition may affect your nail health and some practical tips on improving it.

What is the Function of the Nail?

Your nails serve as a critical division between the top and bottom layers of the skin. They protect your fingertips by preventing your palms and fingertips from becoming calloused and damaged. They also prevent all surfaces in the human body from being directly exposed to foreign materials that could cause infection or disease transmission.

In addition to this, nails protect your fingertips from abrasions and injuries. They also provide tactile stimulation, which can be very useful to individuals who have trouble talking or reading or have limited mobility. Finally, nails also help with balance and strength. They can be used to grip and help you perform tasks such as climbing, swinging, and hanging.

What Are the Nutrients that Affect Nail Health?

Four primary nutrients affect nail health. They are −

1. Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is an essential nutrient that plays a crucial role in the health of the nails and the skin. Vitamin B12 helps maintain the nail and cuticle's health and healthy tissue growth. It also helps with healthy DNA production, essential for preventing diseases and disorders such as cancers, heart disease, and autoimmune diseases. Vitamin B12 can be obtained from a diet that includes eggs, meat, fish, and fortified foods such as fortified cereals and bread. The recommended daily intake of vitamin B12 is 2.4 mcg per day. Many people, however, do not consume enough vitamin B12, which is why it is worth looking into improving your nail health by making dietary changes.

2. Vitamin C

Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is a powerful antioxidant that plays a crucial role in preventing and reducing damage to the skin. It also regulates the flow of proteins in the body, which is essential for healthy nail growth and skin. Vitamin C is also known to help with the formation of collagen and connective tissue in the body. The recommended daily intake of vitamin C is 90-120mg. Although the human body can produce vitamin C, most of it is lost through sweating, urine, and feces. It is, therefore, important for most people to consume dietary sources of vitamin C.

3. Folate

Folate is an essential vitamin that is important for nail health as well as the formation and repair of DNA. It also plays a vital role in preventing damage to the nervous system due to its high methylation levels. The recommended daily intake of folate is 300 mcg. Folate is found in various foods such as vegetables, legumes, and nuts. It is often added to foods as a supplement because most people are found to be lacking in nutrients.

4. Vitamin E

Vitamin E is an essential nutrient that protects the skin and nails from damage due to free radicals. It is also known for its ability to slow down aging and reduce the damage caused by UV rays. Vitamin E is found in various foods such as nuts, avocados, and sunflower seeds. It is recommended that most people consume different plant-based foods because the body cannot produce enough vitamin E. The recommended daily intake of vitamin E is 15mg. Vitamin E is found in many skin and cosmetic products.

Signs of a Deficiency in Fingernail and Toenail Nutrition

  • Yellowing of the nails and toenails − The nail plates are made up of keratin, and the yellowing is a sign that it is not getting enough nutrients to grow or that bacteria are damaging the nutrients.

  • Brittle nails − Nails that are brittle and quickly shattered can be a sign of folate or vitamin B12 deficiency due to a lack of intrinsic factors in the stomach.

  • Curls and ridges in the nails − If the nails are thick and bumpy, it can signify a vitamin C deficiency.

  • Keratinization in the nails − Keratinization is the process by which pins are made up of protein. This can signify that your nails are absorbing too much vitamin C and causing damage to the nails.

  • Dry and split nails − This is another sign of a vitamin E deficiency.

Tips to Improve Fingernails and Toenails

  • Cuticle care − A clean and healthy cuticle is essential for healthy nails. Dirt and dead skin cells in the cuticle area can lead to bacterial growth and nail breakage. You can gradually use a nail file or buffer to clean the cuticle area. Make sure to keep the nails trimmed to allow the rapid growth of new nails.

  • Moisturizing your nails − Dry, brittle nails are likely to be deficient in nutrients and are more prone to damage and breakage. Keeping them moisturized will prevent injury. Use a nail moisturizer or dip your nails in warm water for about 30 seconds.

  • Keeping your nails clean − Dirty nails are more prone to breakage and infection. Cleaning and drying your nails regularly will help keep them healthy and free from bacteria and infection.

  • Vitamin C supplements − If you want to increase your nails' vitamin C content, you can take a supplement, which has been shown to reduce the damage from UV rays and prevent the pins from becoming thick and bumpy. Vitamin C supplements are available at most pharmacies and health food stores.


Nutrition plays a crucial role in managing your fingernail and toenail health. The nutrients discussed in this article are essential for healthy nails and skin. They are also necessary for good strength and health of the nails. Healthy nails are an indication of good nutritional health and vice versa. If you want strong and healthy nails, it is essential to consume a healthy and balanced diet.