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Splitting or Brittle Fingernails

If you have nails that peel, crack and break, you probably have a harmless genetic defect that causes your nails to lose moisture. The most effective treatment is to use nail polish to slow the loss of moisture, and to keep the nails very short. If you have deformed nails, check with a dermatologist to see if you have a fungus infection that can be treated.

Many people believe that eating gelatin will strengthen fingernails, even though there is no evidence that it has any effect. In the 1890s, Mrs. Charles Knox made gelatin by boiling left-over slaughter-house waste of cow's hooves, bones, tendons and skin. She and her salesman husband devised a method of drying sheets of gelatin and grinding them to a powder. They claimed that gelatin would make fingernails stronger, presumably because cow hooves are strong. You can still buy Knox's gelatin, and some people still believe the old advertising claims.

Gelatin does not contain any special nutrients. It contains a little protein, but lack of protein is not the cause of brittle and cracked nails. Even if protein deficiency caused brittle nails, gelatin would be a poor choice, because it is very low in two of the protein building blocks, tryptophan and lysine. You can meet your needs for protein by eating any food source of protein, such as beans, meat, fish or chicken.

Checked 8/9/17

May 30th, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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