Nail splitting, cracking or breaking are symptoms of brittle nail syndrome. However, having brittle nails does not mean that your nails are weak. Brittle nails break because they have lost moisture and become too hard and dry. Brittle nail syndrome affects approximately 20 percent of the population, occurring more often in women than men.
Diseases that can cause brittle nails are Raynaud’s disease, which is a vascular disorder that affects circulation in the hands and feet; Sjogren's syndrome due to changes in moisture in the body; thyroid disease; psoriasis and malnutrition.
Eating a good diet is the best way to build a healthy body with strong nails. Searching the web, one finds numerous sites full of advice that taking various supplements will build healthier nails but there are very few studies that support successful use of these nutriments.
A 2007 Columbia University study investigated whether biotin, vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol), vitamin C (ascorbic acid), vitamin A, retinoids, retinol, retinal, silicon, zinc, iron, copper, selenium, and vitamin B12 (Cyanocobalamin) supplements had any effect on the nails of healthy individuals and on nails that had been affected by disease. They concluded that only biotin and silicon supplementation improved the appearance of nails.
Biotin is one of the B vitamins found in eggs, wheat bran, brewer’s yeast, walnuts and sunflowers seeds. However, the biotin in food is often bound to proteins interfering with absorption. Biotin supplements allow the vitamin to be freely available for use by the body. One study showed that 90 percent of the patients taking 2.5 milligrams of Biotin per day for 2.3 months had a definite improvement in the quality of their brittle nails.
Silicon is thought to contribute to bone and collagen formation. One study showed silicon improved brittle nails in people with psoriasis. Another study of 50 women showed nail and hair brittleness improved after taking 10 milligrams per day of silicon supplements for 20 weeks.
General nail care and protection:
1. Keep nails out of excess water. Wear gloves while doing dishes or other wet tasks.