How do I strengthen my fingernails? My nails have always been paper thin and they break, peel and split quite easily.

Weak fingernails are quite troublesome – as you say, they are constantly breaking, splitting, and peeling. There are a number of factors that can cause the nails to be weak, but if this problem has existed since childhood, there may be a genetic factor involved. If this is the case, it is possible that your nails will always be weak, although you can take certain measures to reduce the severity of the problem. However, many dietary habits are also learned as a child, so if weak nails

have always been a problem for you, they could be the result of a poor diet. As far as one’s diet goes, it is usually vitamin and mineral deficiencies that cause weak nails. Fruits and vegetables are the best sources of most vitamins, so you should eat plenty of these foods. However, remember that excessive cooking and processing often destroy the nutritive values of food, so try eating these foods fresh as far as possible. Of course, some packaged foods are fortified with vitamins and minerals – cereals are a common example. Consuming cereal and other whole grain will also help ensure that your vitamin and mineral intake is adequate. Finally however, your diet should be well balanced – this is the most important characteristic of a healthy diet.

Weak nails could also be the result of misuse. Dryness is one factor that can weaken nails, and is quite common during winter. On the other hand, constant exposure to water can also damage nails and make them weak. People who are constantly working in water often have weak nails and poor skin on their hands. If this applies to you, you should start wearing gloves whenever you work in water. Sometimes, it is not the water itself, but other factors, such as detergents and cleaning solutions, that are responsible for nail damage. Even soap that is harsh or of poor quality can have a negative effect on the skin and nails. The same goes for cheap, harsh nail polishes and nail polish removers.

As we grow older, our nails tend to get weaker, but for you this seems to be a long standing problem. In some cases, weak nails could be a sign of some underlying medical condition. Diseases such as anemia, hyperthyroidism, and numerous skin conditions are known to affect the nails. If your nails are weak in spite of every possible precaution, it may be necessary to consult a skin specialist, or even a nail specialist.

answered by G M

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