There are many supplements marketed for strengthening nails, but the only significant evidence to-date is for supplementing with biotin (vitamin B-7). (ConsumerLab.com's tests of biotin supplements are found in the Product Review of B Vitamins
, including its Top Pick among biotin supplements
.) A small, but controlled, study among women with brittle nails
found that a daily dose of 2,500 mcg of biotin for 6 to 9 months increased nail thickness by 25% and reduced the tendency of nails to split (Columbo, J Am Acad Dermatol 1990
). Biotin does not, however, further strengthen healthy nails.
A study in Brazil suggested a benefit for brittle nails from a collagen supplement. However, there was no placebo control in the study, making the findings questionable. Women in the study consumed 2.5 grams per day of bioactive collagen peptides (BCP, VERISOL) dissolved in water for 24 weeks. Nail growth was reported to have increased by 12% and the frequency of broken nails decreased by 42% compared to the period before collagen treatment. There was no significant change in nail roughness (i.e., ridging and grooves) (Hexsel, J Cosmet Dermatol 2017).
Some preliminary studies also suggest improvement in brittle nails supplementing with 10 to 30 mL daily of colloidal silicon (silicic acid, trademarked Silicol) or 10 mg daily of orthosilicic acid. Adequate intake of vitamins and minerals facilitates nail health, but there is no evidence that normal nails are affected by supplementing with gelatin, cystine, L-methionine, keratin, pantothenic acid, salt, millet, yeast, or chromium, or with formulas containing these ingredients (Scheinfeld J Drugs Dermatol 2007
As noted in the Magnesium Supplements Review, some research suggests that people who have soft, flaky nails that are inclined to break or split may have reduced blood levels of magnesium.
As discussed in the Iron Supplements Review
, brittle nails can be a symptom of iron deficiency anemia.
Soft, thin nails that break easily have been associated with vitamin C deficiency, as noted in the Vitamin C Supplements Review
. (Vitamin C also helps improve iron absorption
Also see answers to these questions:
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Does collagen taken as a supplement help with arthritis? I'm seeing it in products for joint health. >>
Do any supplements help for hair loss? >>
Does CoQ10 reduce wrinkles, increase skin elasticity, or tighten the skin? Are there any other supplements that can help? >>
What is the difference between cysteine and cystine? >>
This CL Answer initially posted on 4/27/2012.
Last updated 8/24/2017.