Do You Know Nutrition: Fingernails Reveal a Lot About Internal Health

Nov. 16, 2010 at 5:16 a.m.

Phylis Canion

Phylis Canion

By Phylis Canion

I have fingernails that split continuously and wonder if nutritional deficiencies could be the cause. I am trying to change my diet and lifestyle, so I welcome any recommendations.

Nails reveal a lot about our internal health. Here is a list of nutritional deficiencies that can result in nail problems.

A deficiency of vitamin A and calcium causes dryness and brittleness, while a deficiency of the B vitamins, especially biotin, causes fragility with horizontal and vertical ridges.

Spoon nails are the result of an iron deficiency, while those white spots on your nails are the result of a zinc deficiency.

If your nails have white bands on them, that indicates a possible protein deficiency. Insufficient intake of vitamin B12 can leave your nails very curved and rounded at the nail ends and very dark.

A lack of friendly bacteria in the gut is indicated in nails that have a fungus under and around the nails or splitting nails that could indicate an insufficient amount of hydrochloric acid in the stomach.

For splitting nails or hangnails, take two tablespoons of brewer's yeast or wheat germ oil daily, and as I always recommend, take a whole-food supplement daily with plenty of good, clean alkaline water.

I do not use artificial sweeteners, but am confused about xylitol, which is considered a natural sweetener. Can you please tell me what I need to look for when purchasing xylitol?

It is very important to know what to look for when purchasing xylitol (zip-lo-tal).

There are two sources of xylitol, corn or birch. Because most corn products are genetically modified, it is important to search for a xylitol product that is made from organic birch trees and is made in the United States, since most corn based xylitol is manufactured in China.

It is also important to know if the xylitol is pharmaceutical grade. Xylitol from a birch source, pharmaceutical grade and made in the United States is more expensive that the inferior imported variety.

However, when your health is at stake, one thing to remember is to never give up quality for cost. An easy way to determine if the xylitol you are considering is manufactured in China is to look at the bar code on the product.

If the first three numbers in the bar code begin with 690-695, China is the country of origin and I would recommend NOT purchasing that product. For a full list of product codes, please visit my website,

Phylis B. Canion is a doctor of naturopathic medicine and is a certified nutritional consultant, e-mail her at This column is for nutritional information only and is not intended to treat, diagnose or cure.



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