Soft, Peeling Nails
Q: Help! Over the past several months, every one of my nails has broken. They're flattened, soft and peeling at the tips. I know nutritional deficiencies can cause weak nails, but I eat well and take a multivitamin daily. I've tried several nail hardeners, but they haven't made a difference. What else I can do?
Dr. Donnica: Soft nails can signal iron deficiency, a problem that can't be corrected with nail-hardening polishes. Taking a daily multivitamin is a smart first move, but be sure that it has iron! Most multivitamins with iron contain only 18 mg. This is sufficient to cover the needs of the general adult population, but that amount may not be sufficient for many women, since factors like blood loss from menstruation can sap iron stores. Other factors that can lead to an iron deficit include a vegetarian diet, high caffeine intake, regular use of aspirin, and regular use of calcium supplements. Boosting your vitamin C intake via supplements or foods may also help increase iron absorption in your body. If your daily multivitamin already includes 18 mg of iron per day, consult your physician to see if you have iron deficiency anemia before taking a higher dose iron supplement. Be patient. It may take 3-6 weeks to see results in your nails, although if you do have an iron deficiency, treating it will also provide you with better general health and more energy.
Created: 7/11/2006  - Donnica Moore, M.D.