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Brittle Fingernails | Brittle Toenails

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Symptom :

brittle nails

Other Terms :

Fingernail Problems | Fingernail Disorders

Like skin, nails tell alot about the state of your health. Fingernail problems include abnormalities such as small depressions or pitting, white streaks or spots, crumbly or weak nails, finger nail ridges, brittle fingernails, brittle toenails, and changes in the shape, color, or texture of nails.

Aside from physical trauma, fingernail disorders typically arise as a result of health conditions such as illness, or infection, or nutritional deficiencies.

Finger nail ridges, and brittle fingernails or brittle toenails in particular, may be caused by aging, or may indicate disorders such as hypothyroidism, or a lack of important minerals and vitamins for hair and nails.

The nutrients necessary for preventing fingernail problems related to brittle fingernails or brittle toenails are tabled below, together with the foods that provide such minerals and vitamins for hair and nails.

If brittle fingernails are also accompanied by dry skin and hair problems, it could be a sign of overall nutritional deficiency. Xtend-Life's page on Hair, Nails and Skin details the relationship between these and overall health.

What nutrient deficiencies can lead to brittle nails :
Biotin   |   More on Biotin
Biotin is well-known to be one of the most important vitamins for hair and nails, as it is needed for cell division and growth. A deficiency of biotin is the main culprit in fingernail problems like brittle nails, and dry brittle hair.

Other symptoms that may indicate deficiency of Biotin :
Bn.02 Deficiency symptoms for Biotin-brittle-nails thinning of hair which may lead to total hair loss
Bn.03 Deficiency symptoms for Biotin-brittle-nails dry scaly scalp or face in infants (cradle crap), or in various parts of the body in adults
Bn.04 Deficiency symptoms for Biotin-brittle-nails mental depression
Bn.05 Deficiency symptoms for Biotin-brittle-nails insomnia
Bn.06 Deficiency symptoms for Biotin-brittle-nails intestinal tract symptoms like loss of appetite, nausea or vomiting
Bn.07 Deficiency symptoms for Biotin-brittle-nails fatigue or extreme exhaustion due to impaired energy production
Bn.08 Deficiency symptoms for Biotin-brittle-nails muscle pain or cramps related to physical exertion
Bn.09 Deficiency symptoms for Biotin-brittle-nails nervo-muscular symptoms like seizures, numbness and tingling of extremities, and movements characterized by lack of muscle tone and coordination

Biotin-rich foods that can help prevent brittle fingernails / brittle toenails include · organ meats such as liver · carrots · romaine lettuce · swiss chard · tomatoes.

Calcium   |   More on Calcium
Not only is calcium important for strong bones, but it also plays a role in strong nails and in preventing fingernail disorders. One of the symptoms of calcium deficiency is misshapened or brittle nails.

Other symptoms that may indicate deficiency of Calcium :
Ca.01 Deficiency symptoms for Calcium-brittle-nails osteoporosis characterized by brittle, porous bones and frequent bone fractures
Ca.02 Deficiency symptoms for Calcium-brittle-nails impaired bone mineralization which, in children, can cause rickets (bone softening) which may lead to bone deformities, fractures, or stunted growth
Ca.03 Deficiency symptoms for Calcium-brittle-nails osteomalacia (bone softening) in adults
Ca.04 Deficiency symptoms for Calcium-brittle-nails loss of bone mineralization in the jaw
Ca.05 Deficiency symptoms for Calcium-brittle-nails tooth decay or periodontal disease
Ca.06 Deficiency symptoms for Calcium-brittle-nails higher levels of lead in bones and teeth
Ca.08 Deficiency symptoms for Calcium-brittle-nails rheumatoid arthritis that leads to joint swelling and pain
Ca.09 Deficiency symptoms for Calcium-brittle-nails heart palpitations or abnormal heart rhythms
Ca.10 Deficiency symptoms for Calcium-brittle-nails risk of hypertension (high blood pressure)
Ca.11 Deficiency symptoms for Calcium-brittle-nails higher cholesterol levels
Ca.12 Deficiency symptoms for Calcium-brittle-nails insomnia
Ca.13 Deficiency symptoms for Calcium-brittle-nails lethargy or chronic fatigue
Ca.14 Deficiency symptoms for Calcium-brittle-nails poor appetite
Ca.15 Deficiency symptoms for Calcium-brittle-nails severe deficiency can cause spasmodic contractions of skeletal muscles, symptomized by tingling fingers, toes or lips, numbness in arms or legs, and muscle pain or severe muscular cramps or spasms

Calcium-rich foods that might help prevent fingernail problems like brittle fingernails or brittle toenails include · fresh dark green vegetables like collard greens, dandelion greens, mustard greens, spinach, turnip greens, wing beans · dairy foods such as buttermilk, mozzarella cheese, raw (non-pasteurized) milk, whey, yoghurt · goat's milk · soft bones of wild salmon, sardines, tuna, and anchovies are good sources of calcium that is easily absorbed by the body.

Copper   |   More on Copper
Lack of copper may cause brittle fingernails and brittle toenails indirectly, as it results in hypothyroidism (under-production of thyroid hormones) which can lead to dry brittle hair, hair loss, brittle nails, coarse dry pale skin, weight gain, intolerance to cold, fatigue, depression, irritability, poor memory, muscle or joint pain, constipation, decreased libido, heavy periods or menstrual irregularities.

Other symptoms that may indicate deficiency of Copper :
Cu.01 Deficiency symptoms for Copper-brittle-nails early symptoms are osteoporosis, osteopenia (lower bone mineral density than normal, but not as low as for osteoporosis) and joint problems
Cu.02 Deficiency symptoms for Copper-brittle-nails retarded growth or abnormalities in bone development in infants and young children
Cu.03 Deficiency symptoms for Copper-brittle-nails anemia that is characterized by lack of improvement with iron therapy alone
Cu.04 Deficiency symptoms for Copper-brittle-nails loss of skin or hair color
Cu.05 Deficiency symptoms for Copper-brittle-nails impaired immune function that may lead to frequent infections
Cu.06 Deficiency symptoms for Copper-brittle-nails impaired nerve function that may lead to taste insensitivity and lack of physical coordination
Cu.07 Deficiency symptoms for Copper-brittle-nails inelastic blood vessels that rupture easily
Cu.08 Deficiency symptoms for Copper-brittle-nails elevated LDL (bad) cholesterol and lower HDL (good) cholesterol levels
Cu.09 Deficiency symptoms for Copper-brittle-nails irregular heart beat
Cu.10 Deficiency symptoms for Copper-brittle-nails breathing difficulties
Cu.11 Deficiency symptoms for Copper-brittle-nails skin sores
Cu.13 Deficiency symptoms for Copper-brittle-nails Menkes disease that occurs mostly in male infants, characterized by sparse greyish or colorless twisted hair, and floppy muscle tone

Copper-rich foods that can help prevent hypothyroidism, and resulting brittle fingernails or brittle toenails, include · cashew nuts · dried beans like soybeans, adzuki beans, garbanzo beans (chickpeas), lentils, lima, navy beans · dried spirulina · crimini mushrooms · shiitake mushrooms · sesame seeds.

Iron   |   More on Iron
Fingernail problems such as brittle fingernails, and finger nail ridges in particular, are associated with iron-deficiency anemia resulting from insufficient red blood cells, as iron is needed for formation of hemoglobin in blood cells; iron deficiency anemia symptoms may include pale skin, cold hands and feet, whites of eyes appearing bluish, headaches, dizziness, irritability, lack of energy, extreme fatigue, rapid heartbeat, low immune function with increased susceptibility to infection, brittle nails, shortness of breath, sore or inflamed tongue or mouth, lack of appetite, blood in stools, restless legs syndrome.

Other symptoms that may indicate deficiency of Iron :
Fe.02 Deficiency symptoms for Iron-brittle-nails food cravings for inedible items such as ice, paint, starch, clay, or dirt
Fe.03 Deficiency symptoms for Iron-brittle-nails increased intestinal inflammation or irritation
Fe.04 Deficiency symptoms for Iron-brittle-nails depression or apathy
Fe.05 Deficiency symptoms for Iron-brittle-nails insomnia or disturbed sleep
Fe.06 Deficiency symptoms for Iron-brittle-nails decrease in ability to concentrate
Fe.07 Deficiency symptoms for Iron-brittle-nails impaired mental skills that can affect memory and job performance
Fe.08 Deficiency symptoms for Iron-brittle-nails learning disabilities and short attention spans in children
Fe.09 Deficiency symptoms for Iron-brittle-nails irregular menstrual periods
Fe.10 Deficiency symptoms for Iron-brittle-nails brittle hair
Fe.11 Deficiency symptoms for Iron-brittle-nails hair loss
Fe.12 Deficiency symptoms for Iron-brittle-nails nails that are spoon-shaped or that have ridges running lengthwise
Fe.13 Deficiency symptoms for Iron-brittle-nails higher risk of lead poisoning in children

Foods high in iron that can help prevent iron-deficiency anemia, and consequent brittle toenails and fingernail disorders, include · animal liver · blackstrap molasses · beef · eggs (especially the yolk) · shiitake mushrooms · dark green leafy vegetables like spinach, mustard greens, romaine lettuce, swiss chard, turnip greens · green beans such as winged beans, string beans · dried beans like kidney beans, lentils · soybeans and soy products, especially tofu · rice bran and wheat bran.

Iodine   |   More on Iodine
Deficiency of iodine may also result in brittle fingernails or brittle toenails indirectly, as it causes hypothyroidism (under-production of thyroid hormones) which can lead to symptoms such as dry brittle hair, hair loss, brittle nails, coarse dry pale skin, intolerance to cold, fatigue or weakness, poor memory, depression, irritability, weight gain, muscle or joint pain, constipation, decreased libido, infertility, menstrual irregularities or heavy periods, and in more severe cases, hoarseness, decreased sense of taste and smell, mental impairment, skin thickening, and puffy face, hands or feet.

Other symptoms that may indicate deficiency of Iodine :
I.01 Deficiency symptoms for Iodine-brittle-nails goiter characterized by an enlarged thyroid gland which may cause a choking feeling or difficulty with breathing and swallowing
I.03 Deficiency symptoms for Iodine-brittle-nails impaired immune system leading to susceptibility to infections
I.04 Deficiency symptoms for Iodine-brittle-nails hearing loss in children
I.05 Deficiency symptoms for Iodine-brittle-nails severe deficiency during pregnancy, breastfeeding or infancy can lead to neuro-cognitive defects in the baby and problems with growth, speech and hearing; a very severe form is cretinism, characterized by brain damage, speech problems, hearing loss, apathy, spasticity, and stunted growth
I.06 Deficiency symptoms for Iodine-brittle-nails even mild iodine deficiency during pregnancy can hamper growth of the child's brain and lead to low intelligence
I.07 Deficiency symptoms for Iodine-brittle-nails congenital hypothyroidism is the most common cause of mental retardation in children

Foods rich in iodine that can help prevent hypothyroidism, and resulting brittle fingernails / brittle toenails, include · salt-water fish · seafood and shellfish · seaweed like dulse, bladderwrack, kelp, nori · iodized table salt.

Manganese   |   More on Manganese
Manganese is important for activating enzymes that enable the body to utilize key vitamins for hair and nails, like vitamin C and biotin. Deficiency of this nutrient can therefore contribute to fingernail problems like brittle fingernails or brittle toenails, excessive bone loss and weak hair and nails.

Other symptoms that may indicate deficiency of Manganese :
Mn.01 Deficiency symptoms for Manganese-brittle-nails nausea or dizziness
Mn.02 Deficiency symptoms for Manganese-brittle-nails vomiting
Mn.03 Deficiency symptoms for Manganese-brittle-nails skin rash
Mn.04 Deficiency symptoms for Manganese-brittle-nails hearing loss
Mn.05 Deficiency symptoms for Manganese-brittle-nails iron-deficiency anemia, due to manganese's role in iron utilization
Mn.06 Deficiency symptoms for Manganese-brittle-nails high blood sugar levels (impaired glucose tolerance)
Mn.07 Deficiency symptoms for Manganese-brittle-nails blood cholesterol levels that are too low
Mn.08 Deficiency symptoms for Manganese-brittle-nails impaired bone growth or skeletal abnormalities, especially in children
Mn.10 Deficiency symptoms for Manganese-brittle-nails loss of hair colour
Mn.11 Deficiency symptoms for Manganese-brittle-nails defective functioning of the reproductive system
Mn.12 Deficiency symptoms for Manganese-brittle-nails severe deficiency in infants can cause convulsions, and even paralysis, blindness and deafness

Manganese rich foods that may help prevent fingernail disorders related to brittle fingernails include · dark green leafy vegetables (broccoli, chard, collard greens, kale, mustard greens, romaine lettuce, spinach) · avocados · pineapple · raspberries · nuts (almonds, peanuts, pecans, walnuts).

Selenium   |   More on Selenium
Research indicates that selenium deficiency worsens the effect of iodine deficiency on thyroid function, leading to hypothyroidism with symptoms such as fatigue, joint pain, irritability, depression, poor memory, weight gain, constipation, intolerance to cold, heavier or lighter menstruation than normal, coarse dry pale skin, dry brittle hair, hair loss, and brittle nails, and that selenium supplements may help protect against goiter.

Other symptoms that may indicate deficiency of Selenium :
Se.01 Deficiency symptoms for Selenium-brittle-nails weaker immune system leading to susceptibility to stress and illnesses
Se.02 Deficiency symptoms for Selenium-brittle-nails greater incidence of cancer, especially gynaecological, gastrointestinal, esophageal, lung, and prostate cancer
Se.03 Deficiency symptoms for Selenium-brittle-nails rheumatoid arthritis patients tend to have low blood levels of selenium
Se.04 Deficiency symptoms for Selenium-brittle-nails elevated blood pressure
Se.05 Deficiency symptoms for Selenium-brittle-nails risk of arteriosclerosis / atherosclerosis (hardening and/or narrowing of the arteries), leading to heart or coronary artery disease
Se.07 Deficiency symptoms for Selenium-brittle-nails loose skin
Se.08 Deficiency symptoms for Selenium-brittle-nails hair or skin discoloration
Se.09 Deficiency symptoms for Selenium-brittle-nails whitened fingernail beds
Se.10 Deficiency symptoms for Selenium-brittle-nails Keshan disease (heart disorder characterized by inflamed heart muscles)
Se.11 Deficiency symptoms for Selenium-brittle-nails Kashin-Beck disease (disabling disease of bones and joints, characterized by stunted growth, bone deterioration, and deformity of joints)
Se.12 Deficiency symptoms for Selenium-brittle-nails severe deficiency along with malnutrition can cause muscle breakdown characterized by pain or weakness in the muscles

Selenium-rich foods that alleviate iodine deficiency and hypothyroidism, and consequent fingernail problems and brittle toenails, include · Brazil nuts (one of the most concentrated selenium food sources) · mushrooms (button, shiitake, reishi) · fish (cod, flounder, halibut, herring, mackerel, salmon, smelts, red snapper, swordfish, tuna) · seafood (lobster, oyster, scallops, shellfish, shrimp).

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