The primary function of fingernails is to support and protect the tissues that are in a person's fingers. Additionally, a person's nails can provide information about the state of their health. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, nails can display signs of vitamin deficiency, diabetes, heart disease, liver and kidney diseases, anemia and lung disorders.
Brittle nails can be an indication that there is a lack of calcium in your diet. When nails are brittle, the structure is faulty, which results in nails that split, break or peel off. Generally, nails that are brittle will break at the tip of the nail and can peel off horizontally. Brittle nails sometimes split lengthwise across the nail surface.
A calcium deficiency can lead to weakened nails. Nails that are weak often grow much slower than a healthy nail. They are very thin and are prone to excess peeling and splitting. Because they are not thick enough to withstand impact, weak nails often break during everyday activities. When nails are weak for a long period of time, they can separate from the nail bed.
When a calcium deficiency is present, the nails may become excessively dry. Dry nails can break and split in the same manner as weak and brittle nails. In addition, dry nails flake off in tiny pieces, leaving the nails with a pitted look. The flakes generally develop near the tip of the nail. The cuticles and skin surrounding the nail also becomes dry and peels.
Ways to Increase Calcium
Drinking milk and consuming dairy products are good ways to increase calcium in your diet. You can also boost your calcium intake by eating spinach, broccoli and other leafy green vegetables. If you are taking a multivitamin, make sure it has a sufficient amount of calcium, at least 40% of the Recommended Daily Allowance. If it does not, you may need to add a daily calcium supplement.