Fingernails and nutrition


Yesterday I walked past a health store and stopped in to ask about nails and nutrition. The health store guy I was taking to recommended silicon supplement for nails. He said to avoid vitamin supplements since you should be getting that from your diet if you are eating healthy (good advice!). Silicon, however, is not easy to find in regular diets and supposedly this is a natural option. But what do I know? I’ve been doing ok so far. I read via  that “While horsetail is the pinnacle herb for silica content, one of the best food sources for silica is oats…Without silica there would be no lustre to our hair; we would have brittle nails, rough and itchy skin and no elasticity in our connective tissues. Our immune systems would suffer and we would grow old sooner.” So maybe I don’t need any pills and I should eat my oatmeal (which is a delicious and cheap breakfast anyway). The supplement the health guy recommended is called Florasil, available via Amazon: Florasil Silicon.

However, after reading and googling this morning, most nail articles don’t even mention silicon. So, of course there is more to it then just silicon. Protein, calcium, magnesium, zinc, sulfur, omega-3 fatty acids, and an array of other nutrients are necessary for hair and nail health. Deficiency can lead to brittle nails or various grow issues such as ridges. You can check out multi-vitamin and mineral supplements designed to give you all you need (via Amazon): Stronger Hair and Nails Nutritional Supplement. But we should all beware of ignoring our own dietary health, maybe we can do this all naturally and not take any supplements at all. Also, bad nails can be a sign of many health problems so asking your doctor is a good idea if your nails are problematic.

I’ve used Healthy Hoof Protein Treatment for years which I can confirm makes my nails stronger, more flexible, and moisturized (so they bend instead of crack). I know this one helps and many classical guitarists use it. There are tons of alternatives for protein nail creams…Taking care of your nails is also key. Wearing gloves when washing dishes or other potential activities that might strip moisture away…

In the end we can improve our diet and take care of your nails while avoiding pills and saving a few bucks. Being in good health is the key despite all these supplements that cost money and are suspiciously un-natural. Plus, there are other benefits to eating well and exercising such as improved muscle and brain function. By the way, I’m not a doctor so this article is just exploring my walk to the health store. Make informed decisions by consulting your doctor or doing your own research.

What are your thoughts and tips on nails? Leave a comment below

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  1. Biotin has been mentioned as beneficial. It’s used to strengthen horses hooves. I have been taking it for 6 months and it’s finally begining to show results.

  2. The focus of this article is solely nutrition. Since a healthy life is pretty much attained by nutrition I’m guessing that this focus is apt.

    That said, I find that my nails stay in pretty good shape by simply using my hands to do physical work. I am a laborer and a classical guitarist. I do all forms of physical labor from growing my own organic veggies (i.e. my hands are in contact with soil daily) to roofing and siding houses etc.. This labor keeps my fingernails tough. I advocate the ‘use it or lose it’ school of thought. I believe hands are meant to be used and nails, being on the ends of ones fingers, will automatically toughen up just because they are used. My guess is that the nails of a non physical laborer are not as durable as those of a physical laborer.


  3. It is my personal experience that daily intake of gelatin strengthens and promotes growth in my fingernails. There have been studies substantiating this (Further studies in the use of gelatin in the treatment of brittle nails.
    ROSENBERG S, et al. AMA Arch Derm. 1957.
    AMA Arch Derm. 1957 Sep;76(3):330-5.)

    Hence, I do not believe those who say it is a myth that daily doses of gelatin does not promote stronger, faster growing fingernails. I am a Ph.D. biochemist and I recommend trying it to see if it works for you.

  4. Sooooo many different schools of thought for caring for nails for guitarists. I’ve been playing too many years, both steel string fingerstyle and classical nylon (which is what I do mostly as I’ve gotten older). Also a woodworker by hobby, which sucks the moisture right out of your hands! This is what I’ve found over the years….

    1.) Good nutrition. Balanced diet and vitamins helps in every aspect of your life, not just nails!

    2.) Oil. My favorite is extra virgin olive oil, but others will fit the bill. A dot of oil on your right hand nails once or twice a week will keep them healthy and moisturized, which keeps them flexible instead of brittle. Your nails are located on the outside of your body you know….

    3.) Sandpaper. Get a couple of grits of sand paper, starting from 150 working all the way down to 2000. NEVER cut your nails with a cutter on your right hand again unless you break one and have to do a full reshape. Some folks use files, but I’ve found that the paper is easier to control the shaping of the nail, plus way cheaper. Sanding builds body to the tip and prevents chips and fracturing.

    As Charlie mentioned above, using them is key. The more you play, the stronger and thicker your nails will grow over time. Oiling and sanding, I have bent back nails almost all the way at work and had them not chip or crack at all. I might break a nail once or twice a YEAR, and this usually only happens during the winter cold. Like I said, this has worked well for me for years, and I’ve tried lots of products. Sometimes the old methods are the best. Hope you gain some wisdom from reading this.


  5. I used biotin in the past. Probably helps as a supplement. I think one still has to be careful with zippers, tools, and avoid damaging nails carelessly, which means even one cracked or broken nail on my right hand fingers can screw up my Fingerstyle playing until it grows back. Also, trimming with a file carefully is better than cutting with sizzers. Nails are my picks. I have to take care of them in order to play correctly. I have tried playing Fingerstyle with short nails, using the skin of my fingers, which gives a muted sound….it stinks. Most of the remarks above seem sensible for the care of your nails, including healthy eating especially.

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