According to Riley Children's Health, your child's nails can tell you a lot about their health. Peeling nails may be a sign of poor health and can be a symptom of deeper issues.
For example, pitting could be a sign of psoriasis, while a simple change in the color or shape of the nails can give you vital clues about yeast and other fungal infections.
Peeling Nails in Kids
It's vital to have a balanced diet to help prevent nail issues. Whether you're dealing with peeling nails or any other kind of nail problem, there are some things you should include in your child's diet to promote healthy nails.
Protein is vital — not just for muscles, but for nails as well. According to KidsHealth.org, nails are made of a material called keratin, which is a type of protein. Children who aren't getting enough protein in their diet might not be replenishing their keratin as often as necessary.
A lack of keratin may lead to cracking and peeling nails in children. The average child needs at least 19 grams of protein a day and 34 grams at most, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Keratin for kids must come from food sources not supplements, as it's not recommended that you give children keratin supplements. The amount of protein kids need every day is:
- Children ages 4 to 9 need 19 grams.
- Children ages 9 to 13 need 34 grams.
- Children ages 14 to 18 need 52 grams for boys and 46 grams for girls.
Good sources of the protein that children need include lean cuts of beef, fish, poultry and pork. Other sources of protein include eggs, nut butters, chickpeas and quinoa. A healthy diet that incorporates a variety of plant and animal proteins should leave your child's nails in tip-top shape.
Biotin for Peeling Nails
Biotin is a B vitamin and is useful in the metabolic process, according to the National Institutes of Health. Make sure your child gets at 10 to 30 micrograms of biotin a day, depending on their age, as recommended by the Mayo Clinic.
Encourage them to eat foods like beef liver, salmon, cauliflower, avocados and eggs, all of which are rich in biotin. This is one way to help prevent your child's fingernails from peeling. The amount of biotin children need daily, by age, is:
- Children ages birth to 3 years need 10 to 20 micrograms.
- Children ages 4 to 6 need 25 micrograms.
- Children ages 7 to 10 need 30 micrograms.
Other good sources of biotin include pork chops, hamburger, sunflower seeds, sweet potatoes, almonds, tuna fish, spinach, broccoli, mild cheddar cheese, milk, plain yogurt, oatmeal, bananas, whole wheat bread and apples, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Vitamin C and Iron
Biotin isn't the only nutrient that can help stop nail peeling. There are other nutrients that are just as vital to the health of your child's nails. Bell peppers and tomatoes are both full of vitamin C, which is known to boost the body's levels of collagen, according to the National Institutes of Health. One small tomato has 12.5 milligrams of vitamin C, notes the USDA, whereas a 3-ounce serving of bell peppers contains 66 milligrams.
Read more: Top 10 Healthiest Fruits and Vegetables
Iron is one of those minerals that your child's diet might not provide in sufficient amounts. Iron deficiency can cause anemia, which can affect the health of the nails and cause a condition known as koilonychia, also known as spoon nails, according to the Mayo Clinic. Children with koilonychia have thin nails that appear to be scooped out. A lack of iron in the diet may also cause nail peeling.
According to the Mayo Clinic, the best foods for iron include chicken, beans, peas and fortified whole-grain breakfast cereals. Here's how much iron children need daily:
- Babies ages 7 to 12 months need 11 milligrams.
- Children ages 1 to 3 need 7 milligrams.
- Children ages 4 to 8 need 10 milligrams.
- Children ages 9 to 13 need 8 milligrams.
- Girls ages 14 to 18 need 15 milligrams.
- Boys ages 14 to 18 need 11 milligrams.
- Riley Children's Health: "Nail Disorders"
- KidsHealth From Nemours: "Your Nails"
- Mayo Clinic: "Iron Deficiency in Children: Prevention Tips for Parents"
- Mayo Clinic: "Biotin"
- Cleveland Clinic: "Why Extra Protein for Your Child Is Unnecessary and Possibly Dangerous"
- National Institutes of Health: "Vitamin C"
- USDA: "Tomatoes, Raw"
- USDA: "Bell Peppers"
- Mayo Clinic: "Fingernails, Possible Problems"
- National Institutes of Health: "Biotin"