I am a 51-year old female. I’m perimenopausal and my nails will not grow. I take regular calcium supplements of 1200 mg every day plus nonfat milk and nonfat soy milk. My diet is high in soy, vegetables and fruits, and carbohydrates, with a limited number of proteins. All my life, I’ve had beautiful, long nails, but within the last two or three years my nails will not grow. I have tried everything possible, yet my nails are paper thin, split, and peel all of the time. Do you have any information or suggestions that might help?
Dr. Rich: It may seem like your nails won’t grow, but actually all nails grow. However, if your nails are brittle, peeling, or easily broken, it will seem like they are not growing at all. The calcium that you are taking is very good for your bones, but it will not help your nails. The strength of nails depends on proteins and amino acids rather than calcium. Water content is also important, because nails that are dehydrated will chip and peel more easily. You don’t say whether you are taking an estrogen replacement. Sometimes women in menopause notice a change in their nails and estrogen replacement may help. There is no scientific proof of this, however. Another thing that is sometimes helpful with brittle nails is the vitamin biotin. The correct dosage is 2,000 to 3,000 micrograms a day. You can ask your pharmacist for a product called Biotin Forte (which contains 3,000 micrograms) that should be taken once daily.