Do my crumbly nails indicate a problem?
April 23, 2009 2:08 PM   Subscribe

Normally healthy and strong, my fingernails are now peeling, flaking, and crumbling a bit near the tips. Is this a sign I'm missing something in my diet?

(I'm a 29 y.o. female and I eat pretty healthfully, home cooking, plenty of vegetables. I do not take vitamins.)
posted by toomuchkatherine to Health & Fitness (11 answers total)
Calcium and/or Omega 3. The former you can obviously get from dairy, the latter from fish and flax seed.
posted by mkultra at 2:18 PM on April 23, 2009

I had a similar problem with my nails. Increasing my calcium intake has made them healthy again. No harm in increasing omega-3 levels too, as per mkultra's advice.
posted by satori_movement at 2:25 PM on April 23, 2009

Do you paint them often? My normally strong nails started peeling and flaking when I started leaving them painted more often than not.
posted by MadamM at 2:26 PM on April 23, 2009

(I'm a 29 y.o. female and I eat pretty healthfully, home cooking, plenty of vegetables. I do not take vitamins.)

If you're washing veggies/dishes without wearing gloves, this can cause your nails to peel. I worked ina floral shop during high school and my nails were awful then, for that reason. Also, as MadamM says, nail polish can certainly do this, too.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:40 PM on April 23, 2009

It's actually more likely to be an environmental cause since it's near the tips. If it was your diet then the weak part would be at the base where it's growing out. So yeah, been painting them a lot? Been near any other solvents or chemicals? Mine react like this when I wash dishes a lot without gloves. Just being dried out in general can do it too (my nails sometimes flake when it's cold and frosty out), maybe try a hand moisteriser which is designed to be rubbed into your nails as well.
posted by shelleycat at 2:42 PM on April 23, 2009

This happens to my nails when I swim a lot in the chlorine pool.
posted by jessamyn at 2:47 PM on April 23, 2009

Could be a fungal infection in your nail beds. I say this gross thing because I've had what you describe and the cure I used was to cut the nails down as far as was safe and then applied a liberal coating of Vick's Vaporub every night until the nails grew out. The dermophytes do not like the camphor in Vaporub, it smothers them. And yes, I had to sleep with socks on my hands so I didn't get Vapo everywhere, but it was worth it.
posted by goml at 2:49 PM on April 23, 2009 [1 favorite]

B6 is also good for nails and hair. I third the environmental cause. I recently got the OPI Nail Envy which is wonderful, stays flexible, and doesn't peel off or chip like other hardeners and undercoats even when I don't wear rubber gloves to wash the dishes.
posted by x46 at 11:09 PM on April 23, 2009

Stress also leads to weaker nails (and hair)— if your life became more stressful a few months ago (when he now-tips were being formed) that could be a reason. Though in my case I usually can see the slight variation in the nail as it grows out.
posted by hattifattener at 11:31 PM on April 23, 2009

RE: nailpolish. If you DO wear nailpolish a lot, and recently stopped wearing it, that could cause peeling as well. What about using a polish with vitamins or other strengthening elements in it? (I like Sally Hansen--between that nail polish and wearing gloves while washing dishes, my nails quit peeling entirely). Also, do you moisturize your hands frequently? That helps me, too.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 7:51 AM on April 24, 2009

Biotin, founds in eggs.
posted by exhilaration at 1:21 PM on April 24, 2009

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