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What can I do to strengthen my nails? I have really soft and weak fingernails that peel off in layers and they break easily. I keep my nails short and I do not use nail polish so I think the problem might be diet-related. I am not a vegetarian but I do not eat a lot of meat these days because they are getting expensive. My pottery teacher said something about white iodine and nails. Can you tell me how to use it as a nail strengthener and if possible, please also suggest a few home remedies to make nails stronger and longer naturally. Thank you. – Jeynelle, Nevada.


homemade nail strengtheners for brittle nails

What Can You Do to Strengthen Weak Nails Naturally?


Hi Jeynelle,

From what you have written, it seems that your diet may be lacking in several essential Vitamins and minerals – zinc, iron,Vitamins A, Band D, and omega 3 fatty acids – which are needed to help promote healthy nail growth and increase nail strength.

Therefore, the first step is to fine tune your diet and make sure you consume enough protein along with regular helpings of the following foods to fortify fragile nails.


What Foods Make Nails Stronger?

1. If you are not getting enough zinc in your body, you will find that your nails are prone to cracking and breakage. In addition, white spots, bands or lines may also appear.

Aside from meat, fish and seafood, you can find zinc in foods such as eggs, wholegrain cereals, nuts, pumpkin seeds, kelp (seaweed) and some vegetables like courgettes, marrow and asparagus. However, some of these foods also have phytates, which interferes with zinc absorption.


2. To grow stronger nails and keep them in tip top shape, I would also suggest you increase your consumption of iron-rich foods. That means eating adequate amounts of lean red meat, liver, eggs, dark green leafy vegetables, beans and lentils, dried apricots, and prune juice.

You also want to consume vitamin C-rich foods – oranges, berries, tomatoes, peppers, and broccoli – at the same time to help your body better absorb iron. Keep in mind that caffeine inhibit iron absorption so make sure to avoid coffee, tea, cola or caffeinated beverages during meals.


3.  Omega 3 fatty acids, like protein, also play a significant role in nail strengthening. Omega 3 fats support healthy nail growth, restore strength to dry brittle nails and prevent nails from splitting or peeling.

The best sources of omega 3 fats are available in oily fish such as salmon, herring, tuna and mackerel. If you dislike fish or seafood, you can also find this nutrient in eggs, walnuts, chia seeds, hemp seeds and flaxseeds.


4. Splitting, brittle or peeling nails may also be a sign of a Vitamin A, B and/or D deficiency. Biotin, also known as Vitamin H or B7, is particularly good for thickening weak nails and helps reduce nail splitting.

Biotin is available in many foods including tomatoes, carrots, peanuts, eggs, yogurt, liver, and cauliflower. Alternatively, take a 2.5mg biotin supplement daily to help strengthen nails. If you decide to use Biotin supplements, please consult your physician first.

Carrot, meat, liver, fortified milk, cheese, and margarine are rich sources of Vitamin A. You can get Vitamin B by consuming red meat, peas, lentils, and unpolished rice (brown rice). Vitamin D can be found in cod liver oil, eggs and seafood. It is also produced in your skin when exposed to sunlight.


In addition to following a nail strengthening diet, you should avoid excessive hand washing (or sanitizing). Soaps, detergents and alcohol based gels can strip and dry out fragile fingernails. Wear gloves to protect your hands and nails when you do housework, wash dishes, or work in your garden.



Natural Homemade Nail Strengtheners

1. Colorless iodine (also called clear, white or decolorized iodine) works miracles on  weak and thin nails because it supposedly binds the protein (keratin) in your nails, causing them to naturally strengthen and grow. White iodine also cures nail fungus.

How to use white iodine on nails? Simply apply a thin coat on your fingernails every day for the first week. Then use only once or twice a month to cure peeling nails. Also, remember not use more than one coat of white iodine on your nails otherwise it will actually weaken them. If your hands start to dry out, moisturize with olive oil or coconut oil, or a rich hand cream (I recommend one that contains Shea butter, or beeswax) in between iodine home treatments.

Just in case you are wondering where to buy white iodine, I suggest Wal-Mart, pharmacy or Amazon.com


2. To repair and  your fingernails, you can try soaking them in a strong infusion of horsetail and dill. Horsetail is rich in silica, which helps your body absorb calcium to naturally promote strong healthy nails.

Place 1 tablespoon chopped dried horsetail and 1 tablespoon dill seeds in a bowl and pour in about 1 cup boiling hot water. Leave it to steep for 1-2 hours and then strain.

To use, heat a small amount of the dill and horsetail nail soak in a small saucepan, or heat in your microwave for a few seconds. Soak your nails for 10-15 minutes, every other day.


3. Rich in Vitamin E and antioxidants, olive oil works well as a natural homemade nail strengthener too. The oil rehydrates dry brittle nails while nourishing and protecting them from peeling or splitting.

Place 3 tablespoons olive oil in a small glass bowl, and stir in 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice (helps to whiten nails naturally) . Mix well and then warm your homemade nail strengthener in a microwave for about 10-15 minutes.

Dip a cotton swab into the olive oil mixture, and gently apply over entire nail bed and surrounding nail cuticles. You can also apply a tiny amount to the underside of your fingernails. For best results, use olive oil nail strengthener every night before you go to bed.

You can also use 1 teaspoon almond oil instead of lemon juice, and do not heat the mixture.


If your nails are not getting any stronger, consult your physician as weak nails may indicate an underlying health problem such as anemia and thyroid disease.




By Tiffany Moore


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