The following information is taken from one of the best books on the market, written by the Cosmetics Cop herself, Paula Begoun. The title of her amazing book is "The Original Beauty Bible - Unparalleled Information for Beautiful and Younger Skin at Any Age" - a definite must-read for everyone!
Today's segment involves the belief that you can actually strengthen your nails from the outside with gelatin, fluoride, calcium and/or biotin.
"Despite the nail's basic attributes, several long-standing myths about getting the talons of your dreams make the coffee-klatch rounds every now and then. Perhaps you've heard some of these nail delusions before, such as that tapping your nails on a hard surface will help nails grow and make them stronger. That isn't true in the least. You can't strengthen the nail by exercising it, assuming the nail needs the same training as a muscle. If anything, tapping will do just the opposite of what you want. Repetitive pressure or strain on the nail will lead to breakage and splitting."
"Another inane nail fiction is the notion that eating gelatin makes nails healthier. Gelatin probably got its reputation as a nail builder because of its relationship to protein. Like your nails and your hair, gelatin contains protein, but no form of food can go directly to the nail or hair to help it grow. There are no studies or data demonstrating that eating gelatin will improve the condition of anything. Eating a balanced, low-fat, nutritious diet (meaning lots of fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains) is certainly an important factor in overall good health, but feeding the nail directly just isn't feasible."
"Several nail-care products want you to believe that 'What's good for your teeth is great for your nails,' so you can 'Harness the power of fluoride with strengtheners, base and top coats, and cuticle care.' If only that were possible!
First, teeth are unrelated to nails. Teeth are made of a bony substance composed of various mineral compounds, mostly calcium phosphate. Nails have no mineral content but rather are composed of hardened keratin, basically the same substance that comprises skin and hair. Fluoride reduces the presence of bacteria in the mouth, which reduces the acidity of the saliva and in turn reduces or eliminates tooth decay. None of that, to put it mildly, has anything to do with nail growth or nail problems.
One more point: Given that almost all of us drink and wash with fluoridated water, our nails are consistently exposed to fluoride. If fluoride were important for healthy nails - which it isn't - the amount we get in our drinking water would be more than enough."
My personal side note: Drinking adequate amounts of water every day is paramount for overall health. It hydrates, it cleanses, it fills you up, etc. I fill two large water bottles first thing in the morning and make sure I drink those, plus every time I go to the kitchen I also drink another normal-size glass of goodness. Try it, it really works.
Important to note: "The nail-care industry has tried to build up many ingredients in the effort to convince us that we can grow stronger nails. For years protein was a big one that showed up in nail-care products, though protein can't feed the skin or nail from the outside in. Diligently applying most nail-care products does help, but it is the protective coating they provide that does the trick, not these impressive-sounding-yet-do-nothing special ingredients."
"Perhaps the last piece of nail improbability is the belief that applying calcium to your nails will make them strong. You can't feed the nail directly, though even if you could, calcium and other minerals are unlikely ingredients for this purpose. Calcium and minerals may help build strong bones (bones are primarily calcium), but that is unrelated to the content of nails. The notion of having nails as strong as bones does make calcium sound appealing. However, even by itself calcium can't build bone; the body needs other vitamins and minerals to use the calcium. Moreover, there is vittually no calcium in nails; they're made of keratin and that's about it."
So, do away with those expensive supplements and design healthier meals centered around fruits, vegetables, whole grains and be sure to drink the recommended amount of water religiously every day. Your skin, nails, hair and body will thank you for it - guaranteed!
Thanks to Paula Begoun for her helpful books and for taking a critical look at the cosmetics industry.
Have a wonderful day, Lisa M.