Why Are My Nails So Brittle?

Are you dealing with brittle nails that won’t get better no matter what you do? You’re not alone. Brittle nails can be a frustrating problem and point to bigger issues with your overall health. Made up of layers of keratin, your nails serve as the protectors of your fingers and toes. 

However, if they’re brittle, these protectors are not uncommon to split, peel, or break. In this blog, we’ll discuss some of the possible causes of brittle nails so that you can determine if there’s an underlying issue and start working on solutions. So, if you’ve been wondering why your nails are so weak, read on! We have all the answers here.

Types of Brittle Nails

Brittle nails fall under two categories: dry and brittle or soft and brittle.

  • Dry and brittle nails result from a lack of moisture. This is most commonly caused by repeatedly washing and drying hands. Nails lose water faster than skin, so constant washing and sanitizing of hands can sometimes result in nails drying out much more quickly thanskin.
  • Soft and brittle nails, on the other hand, are caused by too much moisture. This excessive moisture can come from various factors, such as overexposure to detergents, household cleaners, and nail polish removers.

What Causes Brittle Nails

If you’ve been dealing with weak, brittle nails that just won’t get better no matter what you do, it may be time to look at some of the potential causes behind this issue. From lifestyle choices and diet to medical conditions and more, there are a variety of factors that could be causing your brittle nails. We’ll look at some of these possible culprits so that you can start working on solutions for healthier-looking nails. There are many causes of brittle nails. These include the following but are not limited to:


Age is another factor that can contribute to brittle nails. As we age, our bodies produce less oil and moisture, which can lead to dryness in the nails. This lack of moisture causes the keratin cells in your nails to become weak and brittle. Additionally, our nail beds weaken as we age and become more likely to break or split.

Iron Deficiency

Iron deficiency is another possible cause of brittle nails. Iron helps transport oxygen throughout the body, and when iron levels are low, this can lead to various symptoms, including fragile and brittle nails. Inadequate dietary iron intake can be a major factor in developing anemia, contributing to brittle nails. Furthermore, certain medical conditions such as Crohn’s disease or celiac disease may make it difficult for the body to absorb enough iron from food sources. People with these conditions should consult their doctor about taking an iron supplement if they’re experiencing brittle nails due to insufficient dietary iron intake.


Hypothyroidism is when the thyroid gland does not produce enough hormones to regulate metabolism. This can lead to various symptoms, including fatigue, dry skin, and brittle nails. If you are experiencing brittle nails and suspect that hypothyroidism may be the cause, it’s important to consult your doctor for diagnosis and treatment options.

Raynaud’s Syndrome

Raynaud’s syndrome is a condition that affects blood vessels, narrowing them and restricting blood flow. It can affect any body area, but it most commonly occurs in the fingers and toes. Because of this lack of circulation, people with Raynaud’s syndrome are more susceptible to brittle nails.

Diet and Nutrition for Healthy Nails

Maintaining healthy nails is a cosmetic concern and reflects overall health. Brittle nails, characterized by nails that split or peel easily, can be quite bothersome. Fortunately, diet and nutrition play a significant role in nail health, and several home remedies can help strengthen brittle nails.

  • Protein-Rich Foods: Nails are primarily made of a protein called keratin. Therefore, it is essential to include adequate protein in your diet. Foods like lean meats, fish, poultry, eggs, and legumes are excellent protein sources.
  • Biotin: Biotin, a B vitamin, is particularly known for its role in nail and hair health. Foods rich in biotin include eggs, almonds, cauliflower, cheeses, mushrooms, sweet potatoes, and spinach.
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids: These essential fatty acids help keep your nails moisturized. They are found in fish like salmon, mackerel, and sardines, as well as in flaxseeds, chia seeds, and walnuts.
  • Iron: Iron deficiency can lead to brittle nails. Include iron-rich foods like spinach, lentils, red meat, pumpkin seeds, and quinoa in your diet.
  • Zinc: This mineral is vital for nail growth. Foods high in zinc include beef, pork, shellfish, legumes, nuts, and seeds.
  • Vitamins C and E: respectively, play a role in collagen production and protect cells from damage. Citrus fruits, berries, avocados, and green leafy vegetables are good choices.
  • Adequate Hydration: Drinking enough water is crucial for overall health, including nail health. It helps keep nails hydrated and strong.

Home Remedies for Brittle Nails

  • Moisturize Regularly: Applying a natural moisturizer like coconut, olive, or shea butter to your nails and cuticles can prevent them from becoming dry and brittle.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar Soak: Mix equal parts of apple cider vinegar and water and soak your nails in the solution. This can help strengthen your nails, as apple cider vinegar is rich in nutrients.
  • Lemon Juice and Olive Oil Soak: This combination can help strengthen and brighten your nails. Lemon juice’s vitamin C helps strengthen nails, and olive oil moisturizes them.
  • Avoid Harsh Chemicals: Limit the use of nail polish removers containing acetone, and wear gloves while doing household chores involving harsh detergents or chemicals.
  • Gentle Nail Care: Avoid excessive filing, and file your nails in one direction to prevent splitting. Also, avoid artificial nails as they can weaken your natural nails.
  • Tea Tree Oil: Known for its antifungal properties, it can be applied to the nails to prevent infections that might contribute to brittleness.

Summer Laboratories is here to help!

No matter what the cause of your brittle nails may be, it’s important to take action. From incorporating more iron into your diet and avoiding harsh detergents and household cleaners to seeing a doctor if you suspect an underlying medical condition might be causing them, some steps can be taken to restore healthier-looking nails.


  • Michael Reed

    Michael Reed is a medical writer at Sumlab, focusing on dermatological studies and treatments. His articles help demystify complex clinical results for a broad audience.

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