Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Splitting Fingernails

I get a lot of questions about fingernail conditions. Here's an example from yesterday:

"I have never had strong nails, they are thin and split easily. But the past 5 years my thumb nails are forming a ridge down the center and then they break open and split apart. Then they grow out and the process starts all over again. They seem to be worse in the summer. I am 56 and healthy, I get a check up every year and have bone density test when my doctor recommends it. This condition is not only ugly but very painful when the nail splits open down the center. I have to keep the nail trimmed very short. Can you give me any reason for this, and what can I do or what can I take to prevent it or lesson it."

Vertically splitting fingernails almost always indicate a lack of calcium, whether through inadequate diet or poor absorption. Maintaining sufficient calcium levels within the body eliminates the vertical splits.

The thumb nail takes about 9 months to grow out from the base to tip. If the split goes all the way to the cuticle, then it would take 9 months of continued calcium supplements to correct.

Alcohol and caffeine deplete calcium from the body, so intake should be reduced or eliminated.

Calcium needs to be taken twice per day to maintain sufficient levels. You can do things like have a piece of cheese in the morning, and a calcium supplement at night. (Or just make sure that both your breakfast and dinner contain foods high in calcium.)

Calcium also needs an acidic stomach to be properly digested and absorbed. Antacids should be avoided, even if they contain added calcium.

Vitamin D is also necessary to absorb calcium, either through sunlight or when added to foods (like milk).

The best calcium supplement I have found so far is "Mega Cal high absorption calcium", 650mg soft-chews by Jamieson.

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