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Brittle Nails Overview

Brittle nails are associated to lack of vitamins. This is a common condition and around 20% of people are affected by it. Brittle nails are characterized by peeling off in horizontal layers and breaking. Women are more susceptible to brittle nails than men. Brittle nails can be result of aging, but it is often seen in younger people due to certain diseases and conditions. Onychorrhexis is a medical term for brittle nails. Nails consist of layers of protein. Their thickness and strength depends on genes. When nails become brittle, protein layers start to split and easily break. Nails can be soft and brittle as well as dry and brittle. Brittle nails are very hard to grow.

Causes of Brittle Nails

Brittle nails can be caused by different factors. As it was mentioned, older people often suffer from this condition due to decreased flow of moisture and natural oils. Inheritance also plays a role when it comes to brittle nails. Too much moisture can damage nails as well. This includes frequent hand washing or overexposure to water. If you use too much soaps and detergents your nails can start to peel and crack. In such case it would be best to wear gloves to protect your skin and nails. Some underlying medical conditions can affect nails too. Such conditions include: low thyroid function (hypothyroidism), anemia, Raynaud’s disease, lung conditions, anorexia nervosa or bulimia. Apart from that, brittle nails can be result of certain skin diseases and endocrine disorders. Nail polish removers, especially those containing acetone are another factor that can cause nails to break and split.

Brittle Nails and Vitamin Deficiency

Common cause of brittle nails is vitamin deficiency. Low intake of vitamins leads to dry and brittle nails. Therefore, you have to have proper nutrition to maintain healthy nails. Brittle nails usually result from lack of following vitamins: vitamin A, vitamins B, vitamin C and vitamin D.

Vitamin A is important for the body to process proteins. Since nails mainly consist of proteins, deficiency of this vitamin causes nails to become dry and brittle. Vitamins B, particularly biotin (vitamin B7) and B12 are important to keep healthy nails. If your nutrition lacks in vitamins B, nails will be dry and brittle. Vitamin C deficiency is associated to brittle nails and may cause infections of nail tissues. Vitamin D and calcium deficiency cause damage to nails.

Apart from these vitamins, if you want to have healthy looking nails, your diet must include proteins, hydrochloric acid, essential fatty acids, copper, zinc, selenium, iron, and silicon. You can find such nutrients in fruits and vegetables but you may take dietary supplements as well.

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