7

votes

Nails have started breaking....Is this a sign of poor health?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created February 22, 2012 at 2:39 AM

I have been eating paleo for almost one year now. I have always had the healthiest, strongest nails. Never had a problem with them breaking or splitting.

.... until about 3 weeks ago. Now they are breaking left and right! Peeling off in large pieces and it's kind of making me wonder.

Is this a common side effect of paleo? Could it be from not getting enough dairy? Gelatin? Any ideas from you, paleo community?

Edit As requested, here's what I usually eat:

Breakfast - eggs muffins with bacon and veggies and a piece of fruit - usually berries or an orange. Lunch - Salad with chicken, turkey, or beef. Dinner - Chicken, Steak, Beef, Buffalo, Fish, usually with veggies. Occasional paleo cheat - almond butter, dark chocolate.

Veggies include Broccoli, spinach, green beans, butternut squash.

The only dairy I eat is kerrygold butter for cooking or for my bulletproof coffee.

8d3cb0be5f31c75a05f853cb3b5c245a

(1601)

on November 06, 2012
at 02:39 PM

biotin is produced by the body...i've read if you take too much without other B-vitamins being in balance it can cause acne? on the other hand, for some people it really clears them up.

7841848bd0c27c64353c583fb7971242

(7275)

on June 13, 2012
at 12:16 PM

Helpful anecdote, BoG! I'll add one, too: My nails have always been so thin and soft that I could peel the ends off instead of cutting them. About a month or two after I started supplementing with vitamins D and K2, they started being strong, and I couldn't peel them anymore. Now I can grow them long for the first time in my life. My toe nails still haven't gotten strong, but they grow much more slowly than my fingers so I'm giving them more time.

Medium avatar

(393)

on May 15, 2012
at 03:26 PM

Not an answer to her question....

Af3e3615beba642bcafd0f21d64d74f7

on February 23, 2012
at 12:13 AM

Also, on a SAD diet, the body cannot utilize vits/minerals correctly, and hair/nails are one of the bodies ways to get rid of excess (if the body is not communicating/absorbing properly, it can be confused as excess), the hair and nails are one of the many ways it gets rid of the excess supply.

Af3e3615beba642bcafd0f21d64d74f7

on February 23, 2012
at 12:13 AM

Just getting sun exposure is not necessarily going to trigger VitD. It is highly dependent on the time of day, and many factors of physics that in the past would not have been a major issue. Bringing those levels up worked for me when I had this same trouble a while back. Typically one needs at least 15 minutes (and alot of bare skin) to begin producing, so an hour a week (again depending on the angle of the light coming from the sun, and time, etc.) is probably not enough.

33ff1847bdaeceabe95f0735c3c40694

on February 22, 2012
at 09:39 PM

also might be worth mentioning that my nails used to be weak and bendy when i was eating a low protein, low calorie diet...since starting to eat plenty of protein and enough calories my nails are super strong, quick to grow, and so is my hair. my nails are actually difficult to cut even with nail clippers...maybe enter a days worth of food into fitday.com and check your macros???

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on February 22, 2012
at 07:31 PM

Collagen itself is rather limited in amino acids, mostly glycine and proline, both non-essential (i.e. we make them). We break down collagen into amino acids for absorption. A high protein diet should have the same effect as supplemental collagen.

E36cb992cf0a5eba8b97a359c15f38b3

(4347)

on February 22, 2012
at 05:27 PM

an addendum-- I'm not sure how the chemical processes work, but maybe the collagen is allowing for better absorption of other nutrients?

E36cb992cf0a5eba8b97a359c15f38b3

(4347)

on February 22, 2012
at 05:25 PM

Sure, it doesn't mean that necessarily. That said, there is something in those foods that has helped the strength of my nails and health of my hair immensely. Whether my body is absorbing collagen or not, I think it's probably beneficial to ingest it.

Fd8cf1696bb79f053b2e02037c1be724

(100)

on February 22, 2012
at 04:01 PM

Totally agree, you can get a very gelatinous broth without, but the feet, in addition to having more collagen that other parts, add a richer flavor, and trust me, make it even thicker (I make it both ways) -- worth trying if you can find them.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on February 22, 2012
at 03:40 PM

Eating collagen (gelatin) does not mean you're incorporating that collagen into your tissues.

1805757a5926dffa9ef875a81725e078

(20)

on February 22, 2012
at 03:25 PM

i always had very brittle nails and had to keep them very short or they'd break very easily. since i've been supplementing with magnesium citrate and sometimes putting magesium oil on my skin followed by an epsom salt bath, my nails are extremely tough. i actually started taking magnesium to help with stress and muscle tightness, the nail discovery was coincidental. because of what i've read about what magnesium does and the likelihood that most people may be deficient, it is something i prioritize. my brittle nails were a very helpful/insightful symptom for me.

1096aa84d006fe967128ffbd37e8070e

(1002)

on February 22, 2012
at 03:25 PM

I've heard about using chicken feet, but I just made a broth with the carcass (no neck or feet) of one small chicken that is from a local organic farmer. I took it out of the fridge to skim the fat off the top (which was a beautiful yellow), and the broth was so gelatin-rich that I could stand my spoon up in it! I'm so glad I don't have to deal with feet. These babies are expensive, though!

E36cb992cf0a5eba8b97a359c15f38b3

(4347)

on February 22, 2012
at 02:22 PM

Buckwheat is a pseudo-grain. It's not paleo if you're dogmatic about it, but it's gluten-free and not technically a grain. (It's the seed of a plant related to rhubarb.) I've noticed a few bloggers, notably Chris Kresser, making sourdough buckwheat pancakes or crepes. It's pretty high in magnesium and other minerals.

E36cb992cf0a5eba8b97a359c15f38b3

(4347)

on February 22, 2012
at 02:21 PM

I use this stuff: http://www.greatlakesgelatin.com/consumer/products.php It's a naturally-occurring protein from animals, and this brand uses gelatin derived from grass-fed cows. Homemade bone broth (chicken stock, etc.) is great for soups or drinking as a hot beverage. It also has the benefit of having tons of minerals you may or may not be deficient in. As for what you got in your SAD--what did you eat then? Did you ever have chicken broth soups? Did you eat other veggies/high mineral foods then that you don't now?

Ebcbbdcb8b727e69e06eaa102d49a84c

(1804)

on February 22, 2012
at 02:03 PM

I'm not sure my vitamin D levels. I do try to get outside as often as possible - which is probably about 1 hour per week. Although honestly, this is about average for me for as long as I can remember. Do you think this could be a reason?

Ebcbbdcb8b727e69e06eaa102d49a84c

(1804)

on February 22, 2012
at 01:55 PM

What is buckwheat? How do you consume this? Is it paleo?

Ebcbbdcb8b727e69e06eaa102d49a84c

(1804)

on February 22, 2012
at 01:54 PM

Blueballoon, No, I don't eat bone broth. I'm not too familiar with what it would be used for. Also, what is kosher gelatin? What form does it come in? Is this paleo? I haven't ever worried about consuming gelatin and my nails have been fine in the past. Would this have been something I would have regularly consumed in my SAD diet prior to eatng paleo?

Ebcbbdcb8b727e69e06eaa102d49a84c

(1804)

on February 22, 2012
at 01:53 PM

Thanks TeaElf, I did make the changes. Was just trying to get people's attention! I appreciate the input.

0bc6cbb653cdc5e82400f6da920f11eb

(19245)

on February 22, 2012
at 12:24 PM

What veggies are you eating?

Fb67dc30cead043d1d13ea503a3044dc

(3280)

on February 22, 2012
at 08:23 AM

Hi DNO812 - might I humbly suggest you edit the question so that it mentions more of the issue? The title might be causing people to skip over it as a trivial problem! I think this is a good and important nutrition-related question that deserves more attention.

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on February 22, 2012
at 04:04 AM

I would add in some buckwheat. And gelatin.

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on February 22, 2012
at 03:32 AM

...maybe post a day of what u have. Many diseases do effect the nails so do include any of that even if it never effected your nails before.

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10 Answers

3
E36cb992cf0a5eba8b97a359c15f38b3

on February 22, 2012
at 12:10 PM

I would try adding in gelatin-rich foods. I supplement now with the Great Lakes kosher gelatin, but also make a ton of bone broth (which I didn't see you mention in your usual diet). My nails are really strong now, but weren't before I regularly started consuming gelatin.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on February 22, 2012
at 03:40 PM

Eating collagen (gelatin) does not mean you're incorporating that collagen into your tissues.

E36cb992cf0a5eba8b97a359c15f38b3

(4347)

on February 22, 2012
at 05:27 PM

an addendum-- I'm not sure how the chemical processes work, but maybe the collagen is allowing for better absorption of other nutrients?

E36cb992cf0a5eba8b97a359c15f38b3

(4347)

on February 22, 2012
at 02:21 PM

I use this stuff: http://www.greatlakesgelatin.com/consumer/products.php It's a naturally-occurring protein from animals, and this brand uses gelatin derived from grass-fed cows. Homemade bone broth (chicken stock, etc.) is great for soups or drinking as a hot beverage. It also has the benefit of having tons of minerals you may or may not be deficient in. As for what you got in your SAD--what did you eat then? Did you ever have chicken broth soups? Did you eat other veggies/high mineral foods then that you don't now?

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on February 22, 2012
at 07:31 PM

Collagen itself is rather limited in amino acids, mostly glycine and proline, both non-essential (i.e. we make them). We break down collagen into amino acids for absorption. A high protein diet should have the same effect as supplemental collagen.

Ebcbbdcb8b727e69e06eaa102d49a84c

(1804)

on February 22, 2012
at 01:54 PM

Blueballoon, No, I don't eat bone broth. I'm not too familiar with what it would be used for. Also, what is kosher gelatin? What form does it come in? Is this paleo? I haven't ever worried about consuming gelatin and my nails have been fine in the past. Would this have been something I would have regularly consumed in my SAD diet prior to eatng paleo?

E36cb992cf0a5eba8b97a359c15f38b3

(4347)

on February 22, 2012
at 05:25 PM

Sure, it doesn't mean that necessarily. That said, there is something in those foods that has helped the strength of my nails and health of my hair immensely. Whether my body is absorbing collagen or not, I think it's probably beneficial to ingest it.

2
246ebf68e35743f62e5e187891b9cba0

(21430)

on February 22, 2012
at 07:59 PM

I don't supplement with calcium and rarely eat dairy - but I've experienced the opposite... my nails grow fast, as does my hair. I know this doesn't help you, except to know that in my case, calcium is definitively not causing my nails to become brittle.

I'd look into getting your vitamin d levels checked. You are no longer eating fortified foods so deficiencies can, and do occur on a Paleo diet. You are also getting about 1/4th of the weekly sunlight that I believe you need to be healthy.

2
Fd8cf1696bb79f053b2e02037c1be724

(100)

on February 22, 2012
at 02:59 PM

If it were me, I'd try using Fitday for a week or so to see how much calcium & other minerals you're getting from your current diet. When I first started paleo, I had problems w/ nails & gums, and found I was not getting nearly enough minerals, esp. calcium. I solved the problem with cultured dairy (yogurt, aged raw milk cheese) but obviously that's not the only way.

Also agree with the bone broth suggestion. If you can find chicken feet (and if you can stand to deal with them!) you'll get a nice rich broth with lots of gelatin.

1096aa84d006fe967128ffbd37e8070e

(1002)

on February 22, 2012
at 03:25 PM

I've heard about using chicken feet, but I just made a broth with the carcass (no neck or feet) of one small chicken that is from a local organic farmer. I took it out of the fridge to skim the fat off the top (which was a beautiful yellow), and the broth was so gelatin-rich that I could stand my spoon up in it! I'm so glad I don't have to deal with feet. These babies are expensive, though!

Fd8cf1696bb79f053b2e02037c1be724

(100)

on February 22, 2012
at 04:01 PM

Totally agree, you can get a very gelatinous broth without, but the feet, in addition to having more collagen that other parts, add a richer flavor, and trust me, make it even thicker (I make it both ways) -- worth trying if you can find them.

1
Ebfd2f72b93b7bb2661599a53b0d2487

on June 13, 2012
at 10:22 AM

I am having the same issue - I have been eating Paleo (at least 80%) for the last 1.5 years. My nails were perfect for 30 years and now the tips peel like crazy - I live in Europe, so I have decided that Euro dairy is safe enough for me (a lot less hormones/preservatives than US dairy), so I don't think it is a calcium or vitamin D issue. I eat eggs quite a bit as well.

I am open to suggestions!

Typical diet: breakfast: steamed greens, poached egg and salmon lunch: salad with meat and lots of veg, steamed veg & seafood or grilled meat dinner: meat, fish or chicken with veg snacks: 0-1 servings of fruit or hazelnuts

Thanks.

1
33ff1847bdaeceabe95f0735c3c40694

on February 22, 2012
at 09:36 PM

you probably want to consider taking a good multivitamin every day just to ensure proper levels of vitamins. weak nails are a sign of nutrient deficiencies (although i'm not sure EXACTLY what).

33ff1847bdaeceabe95f0735c3c40694

on February 22, 2012
at 09:39 PM

also might be worth mentioning that my nails used to be weak and bendy when i was eating a low protein, low calorie diet...since starting to eat plenty of protein and enough calories my nails are super strong, quick to grow, and so is my hair. my nails are actually difficult to cut even with nail clippers...maybe enter a days worth of food into fitday.com and check your macros???

1
F31284a8bfcedaaf4ed94425543196be

on February 22, 2012
at 03:58 AM

I want to see other peoples answers. I have the same problem. My nails were fine, now they peel and I cannot get any length on them. I cannot figure out what the low fat, whole grains did for my nails that paleo does not. And for the record, this has been an issue for me since I went paleo about 2.5yrs ago...

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on February 22, 2012
at 04:04 AM

I would add in some buckwheat. And gelatin.

E36cb992cf0a5eba8b97a359c15f38b3

(4347)

on February 22, 2012
at 02:22 PM

Buckwheat is a pseudo-grain. It's not paleo if you're dogmatic about it, but it's gluten-free and not technically a grain. (It's the seed of a plant related to rhubarb.) I've noticed a few bloggers, notably Chris Kresser, making sourdough buckwheat pancakes or crepes. It's pretty high in magnesium and other minerals.

Ebcbbdcb8b727e69e06eaa102d49a84c

(1804)

on February 22, 2012
at 01:55 PM

What is buckwheat? How do you consume this? Is it paleo?

0
Fd70d71f4f8195c3a098eda4fc817d4f

(8014)

on June 13, 2012
at 01:07 PM

BIOTIN is great for nails (and hair).

Might want to try 1000mcg/day. (Very easy to find at any drugstore.)

(But gelatin is awesome, too. Never underestimate the power of bone broth!) ;)

8d3cb0be5f31c75a05f853cb3b5c245a

(1601)

on November 06, 2012
at 02:39 PM

biotin is produced by the body...i've read if you take too much without other B-vitamins being in balance it can cause acne? on the other hand, for some people it really clears them up.

0
153c4e4a22734ded15bf4eb35b448e85

(762)

on June 13, 2012
at 12:35 PM

It could also be a sign of elevated cortisol levels, and LC will do that, your liver isn't going to produce sugar before your body elevates cortisol as a stress response (which LC is).

You seem to eat very high protein, and low carb, so you might want to consider if your cortisol levels are high, other things that seem to happen after the nails have started to become brittle is brittle hair, and thin skin.

I had extremely shitty nails on low carb, now they are ok. I had always had long strong nails, but a semi LC diet made them so brittle in something like half an year, I ate more carbs than you do now, and I still had elevated cortisol and problems from it.

Other problems could be just that you are not getting enough biotin, and also that your body uses some stuff much more quickly with an LC altered metabolism (for example selenium, and --> thyroid problems which I won't get into here, also cortisol is an antagonist to thyroid hormones).

0
Af3e3615beba642bcafd0f21d64d74f7

on February 22, 2012
at 05:02 AM

What are your vitamin d levels? Or what is the time of exposure to vitamin d production?

Af3e3615beba642bcafd0f21d64d74f7

on February 23, 2012
at 12:13 AM

Also, on a SAD diet, the body cannot utilize vits/minerals correctly, and hair/nails are one of the bodies ways to get rid of excess (if the body is not communicating/absorbing properly, it can be confused as excess), the hair and nails are one of the many ways it gets rid of the excess supply.

Af3e3615beba642bcafd0f21d64d74f7

on February 23, 2012
at 12:13 AM

Just getting sun exposure is not necessarily going to trigger VitD. It is highly dependent on the time of day, and many factors of physics that in the past would not have been a major issue. Bringing those levels up worked for me when I had this same trouble a while back. Typically one needs at least 15 minutes (and alot of bare skin) to begin producing, so an hour a week (again depending on the angle of the light coming from the sun, and time, etc.) is probably not enough.

Ebcbbdcb8b727e69e06eaa102d49a84c

(1804)

on February 22, 2012
at 02:03 PM

I'm not sure my vitamin D levels. I do try to get outside as often as possible - which is probably about 1 hour per week. Although honestly, this is about average for me for as long as I can remember. Do you think this could be a reason?

-1
A2b9075bd176ca2912743e4df1e4af49

(146)

on February 22, 2012
at 03:52 AM

My nails have always been strong....they actually seem to be getting stronger and healthier.

Medium avatar

(393)

on May 15, 2012
at 03:26 PM

Not an answer to her question....

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