’em and file ’em and paint ’em with polish. And every 6
to 9 months, we grow a complete new set of nails, say
dermatology experts. So how do we keep these functional beauty
statements strong, flexible and lookin’ good?
look at your nutrition. Our nails get much of their strength
from proteins called keratins. Adequate fluid intake helps
keep nails flexible. And minerals such as magnesium, iron,
zinc and copper help them grow strong. Calcium is incorporated
into nails as well, but surprisingly does not contribute as
much to nail hardness as we might think.
do with nails that are brittle? One nutrient that shows
promise is biotin, a B-vitamin (B-7) that helps convert our
food into energy. Biotin is also known as vitamin H (don’t
ask me why).
first noted the value of biotin when they saw that it helped
heal brittle hooves in horses. In humans, biotin might
increase the thickness of fingernails and toenails in people
with brittle nails, according to the National Institutes of
Health (NIH). Don’t look for immediate results however.
Since biotin is involved in the new growth of nails, the
process could take six months or more.
biotin we need is another question. No recommended daily
intake currently exists for biotin. Instead the NIH has set an
"adequate intake" for adults at 30 micrograms.
dietary supplement called "Killer Nails" contains
5000 micrograms of biotin. Is that too much? No one knows.
What we do know is that 1000 to 3000 micrograms were used in
research studies that demonstrated increased nail thickness.
And no adverse effects were seen in these high doses.
get biotin in our diet? Why, yes, we do. Biotin is found in a
variety of foods including nuts, eggs (especially the yolk),
soybeans and other beans, peanuts and other legumes, wheat
bran, oats, fish, pork, avocados, yeast and liver. Biotin is
also manufactured by the good bacteria in our gut. So
deficiencies of this nutrient are rare.
reliable multivitamin formulas also contain biotin.
caution if you’re tempted to eat your eggs
"Rocky-style." Raw egg whites contain a substance
that prevents biotin from being absorbed by the body. Cooked
eggs are a better option.
reviewing her research on this topic, I asked Jacqui, our
nutrition intern, what she would say to someone who wanted to
take a supplement like "Killer Nails" for brittle
smart nutrition professional, she smiled and said, "Look
at your diet first. Several nutrients besides biotin support
you think your nails might need a boost of biotin? "It’s
worth a try," she says.