The condition of your nails provides insight into your overall health. Your body continually gives rise to new keratinized nail tissue that forms the nail plate, or the visible nail. The B-complex family of vitamins -- eight related water-soluble vitamins -- play a role in the health of your nails. If you suffer from weakened nails as a result of a B-vitamin deficiency, taking a B-vitamin supplement might help harden your nails.
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General deficiencies in B vitamins can lead to nail ridging, according to Emory University. Without vitamin B, your nail bed cannot properly support nail growth, leading to the development of longitudinal ridges on the nail. This weakens the overall structure of the nail plate, creating soft, breakable nails. Taking a multivitamin or B-complex vitamin can help to fight a general B-vitamin deficiency, hardening nails by preventing nail ridging.
Effect of Biotin
One specific B-vitamin that can have an effect on nail hardness and strength is biotin, also called vitamin H or vitamin B-7. Biotin aids in the maintenance of several keratinized tissues, including your nails, skin and hair. A biotin deficiency can lead to brittle nails, as well as dull and thin hair. Taking a biotin vitamin supplement might help to strengthen brittle nails by thickening to nail plate and preventing damage, according to the Linus Pauling Institute.
Effect of Folic Acid
Another vitamin particularly important to nail health is folic acid, or vitamin B-9. A failure to consume enough vitamin B-9 can lead to the development of a ridge that runs along the center of the fingernail, according to Emory University. This weakened ridge can easily become damaged, causing nail splitting. Restoring proper folic acid intake by taking a vitamin supplement can support proper nail growth, helping to re-harden the nail plate.
Other Possible Causes of Nail Disorders
While B-vitamins can help harden your nails in some cases, they might not treat weakened nails caused by other underlying disorders. Some disorders, such as autoimmune diseases, can interfere with new nail growth, leading to weakened nails. In addition, deficiencies in other nutrients, such as protein or dietary minerals, can also harm nail growth, causing weak nails. If you suffer from very weak nails or other nail disorders, consult a physician to determine the underlying cause before taking a B-vitamin supplement.