Can Vitamins Help Improve Nail Health?

Summary
Many pharmaceutical companies sell multivitamin capsules for their potential to enhance nail health. In the present study, researchers evaluated various studies to know the actual utility of vitamins and minerals in improving nail health. “The failure to attain healthier nails through supplementation (and the reality that health can be undermined with excess micronutrient consumption) is a clear conclusion of this article.”

Introduction
“Onychocosmeceuticals” is a term that has been coined for substances that are thought to improve the health of nails. Numerous studies have been done on substances that may improve the beauty and health of nails. Worldwide, many people are concerned about the beauty of their nails and consume a variety of nutritional supplements to improve the health of their nails. It has been observed that those people with poor nutritional status, such as those suffering from anorexia nervosa, have unhealthy, brittle nails. In the present study, scientists reviewed various articles written about improving nail health and the use of vitamins such as biotin, A, B12, C, D and E; and minerals such as calcium, silicon, iron, zinc, and selenium. In addition, they evaluated whether a deficiency of these nutrients produced any diseases in nails. They also examined the adverse effects of consuming high amounts of vitamins and minerals on nail health.

Methodology
Several articles concerned with the health of nails were retrieved from various medical resources. These reviewed studies were essentially conducted to investigate the role of nutrients in improving the health of nails in normal, as well as in diseased states. They also reviewed articles concerned with the toxicity of nutrients producing disorders of nails. They studied more about a disease called “brittle nail syndrome” and the roles of biotin and silicon in curing this particular disease.

Data
* In well-nourished people, any form of nutritional supplementation does not improve the beauty of nails.
* Vitamin E supplementation has been shown to be useful in therapy for yellow nail syndrome and derivatives of vitamin A and D intake are useful in treating psoriasis of nails. A deficiency of vitamin B12 causes darkening of the nails, while a deficiency of iron causes spooning of the nails. Increased vitamin A intake causes nail infections and prolonged intake of selenium results in longitudinal streaks over the nails.
* High doses of biotin (2.5mg per day) and silicon (10mg per day) can benefit patients with brittle nail disease.
* Appropriate nail care and adequate intake of vitamins and minerals help to maintain proper nail health; but excess consumption is not useful to enhance the appearance of nails, rather, it can damage the nails.

Conclusion
This study has highlighted the utility of vitamins and minerals in diseases of nails and their futility in increasing nail beauty in well-nourished individuals. Brittle nail disease is the only disease in which supplementation of a vitamin biotin is found to be useful. “Our review does not provide a strong scientific basis for recommending mineral and vitamin supplementation to well-nourished patients with normal-appearing nails to sustain or enhance nail health or appearance.” Individuals wanting to improve the health of their nails should be advised to observe a suitable diet providing adequate amounts of all nutrients and take sufficient care of their nails.

For More Information:
Vitamins and Minerals: Their Role in Nail Health and Disease
Publication Joural: Journal of Drugs in Dermatology, August 2007
By Noah Scheinfeld, MD; Maurice J. Dahdah; Columbia University Presbyterian Hospital, New York, New York

*FYI Living Lab Reports Are Summaries of the Original Research.