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June 01 2010

How to Treat Nail Ridges & Brittle Finger Nails

There is an idea that soft and brittle nails indicate the potential to develop osteoporosis, many people ask me if this could possibly be true .

Although I am not aware of research that confirms the link between brittle nails and osteoporosis, one may exist. Many people who seek my advice with this symptom often see improvements when they add a balanced bone mineral formula to their nutrition program. This means that nails are probably a better indicator of certain vitamin or mineral deficiencies which, when left uncorrected, could ultimately lead to osteoporosis. With limited research, we cannot assume that brittle nails are an indicator of osteoporosis because it is possible to have brittle nails without necessarily having weak bones. Over time, it is possible that the very same deficiencies that cause brittle nails may also be a factor in the development of osteoporosis. This is an important distinction because when the nutrient deficiencies have been corrected and the nails improve, this does not necessarily mean that you are “out of the woods” as far as osteoporosis is concerned.

A recent study evaluated the published literature to see if there was any scientific proof that nutritional deficiencies could lead to what is called “Brittle Nail Syndrome”. After this evaluation , the researchers had three main findings:

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  1. Proper nail care plays an important role in the vitality of your nails
  2. There is no research indicating   that supplementing with vitamin A, C, E, zinc, iron, copper or vitamin B12 will correct the problem
  3. Brittle Nail Syndrome can be corrected with 2.5 mg of biotin or 10 mg of silicon daily  (The silicon should be in the stable form called choline-stabilized orthosilicic acid)

(J Drugs Dermatol 2007;6:782-787)

These findings are interesting but not unexpected. Biotin is well known for its benefits in improving nail ridges and eliminating weakness . However, most people who use biotin supplementation often take a minimal dose that will not be sufficient to impact the nails . I have found that people respond to 3 mg  (3000 mcg) or more daily but may not respond to lesser amounts. I have also used the stabilized silica quite successfully. Incidentally , silicon is quite beneficial for bone health and an important component of any osteoporosis nutrition program. A side benefit of this form of silicon is a decrease in age-related fine lines of the skin by 19%.

The important message here is to never underestimate the importance of minor symptoms since they could be an indication of a more serious matter. If you suffer with nail ridges or brittle nails, it may indicate that conditions are right for osteoporosis. It is also important to note that when you pursue natural solutions for osteoporosis, you may also enjoy benefits to the hair, nails and skin.