Health Condition

Brittle Nails

About This Condition

Brittle nails can be weak, thin, nails that peel or break easily, and/or grow slowly.

The common condition of brittle nails is often not definitively linked with any known cause. Nonetheless, natural medicine may be able to help strengthen brittle nails.

Most conditions that affect nails are unrelated to nutrition; they are caused by a lack of oxygen associated with lung conditions, hemorrhage due to infection, or inflammation around the nail due to infection. If there is any question about what the problem is, it is important to get a diagnosis from a healthcare practitioner.


People with brittle nails may have frequent or easy breaking, cracking, splitting, or tearing of their nails.

Other Therapies

Therapy involves the intake of adequate nutrition; especially protein, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B6, niacin, calcium, and iron; the use of gloves when washing dishes, and the avoidance of drying chemicals, such as nail polish remover. Treatment of an underlying medical condition, such as thyroid deficiency or poor circulation, may be necessary.


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5. Derzavis JL, Mulinos MG. The brittle nail. Its treatment and prevention with gelatin. Med Ann DC 1961;30:133-7.

6. Mirkin G. Gelatin doesn't cure brittle nails. DrMirkin.com [last checked 2007 May 3, cited 2001 Mar 20]. Available from URL: http://www.drmirkin.com/nutrition/8472.html.

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The information presented by Healthnotes is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires December 2020.