Why Your Nails Keep Breaking + How To Fix It

Expert Advice


It might seem dramatic, but it’s beyond annoying when your nails are constantly breaking, chipping, and even splitting, which can actually be hella painful! Sound familiar? Skip the search for a miracle product fix, it’s time to look inwards. Just like what you eat can impact your skin and hair health, it can also play an important role in your nail health. So grab a chair because we’re dishing all the deets on how to strengthen your nails from the inside out with the help of nutritherapist and Founder of The Health Nag, Natasha Rudatsenko.

Listen to Your Body

When you eat something bad, your body reacts dramatically, but sometimes its reaction is more subtle. For example, puffy eyes are its way of telling you, “Hey, maybe sleep earlier tonight?” Similarly, weak and brittle nails can indicate that your body’s lacking in a certain vitamin or mineral.

“Like with your skin and hair, the health of your nails is often a mirror of your health state,” says Natasha Rudatsenko. She continues, “If you’re struggling with weak, brittle, or discolored nails, the first place you probably want to look is the foods you’re eating, as well as identify certain deficiencies that may impact it.”

What to Eat for Strong, Healthy Nails

Natasha explains, “your nails need nutrition, vitamins, and minerals [for you to notice] the biggest difference [to your nail health.]” This makes sense since our nails are made up of keratin, a protective protein found in hair and skin, which comes from eating healthy foods that promote keratin synthesis. She also recommends avoiding coffee, sugary treats, deep-fried, and highly processed foods – we understand cutting these foods out 100% is super difficult, so just try and cut back the best you can.

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Depending on your nail dilemma, check out what Natasha recommends to help improve your nails:

1. Weak Nails

What you need: Brittle nails that chip or break easily need strengthening, and the easiest way to do that comes by increasing your B12 intake. Natasha explains that B12 is “responsible for iron absorption and developing new red blood cells,” which ensures healthy blood flow – and in turn, oxygen – to your nails.

Where to get it: Meat, fish, eggs, dairy, and nutritional yeast.

2. Ridged Nails

What you need: If you have vertical dents in your nails, you’re probably not getting enough iron. Natasha adds, “Iron works together with vitamin B12 to help your body create new cells throughout the body, including your nails.” This, over time, will smooth ridged nails.

Where to get it: Beef, chicken, fish, and eggs (these absorb more easily into the body). Plant-based options include dark leafy greens, peanuts, seeds, beans, and nettle tea.

Pro tip: Natasha strongly recommends pairing your iron sources with vitamin C as “this will help your body process the iron more effectively. For example, squeeze some lemon on your salad or drink lemon water daily for your dose of vitamin C.”

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3. Slow-Growing Nails

What you need: Biotin “promotes healthy cell growth and helps your body metabolize amino acids, which are crucial for nail growth,” notes Natasha.

Where to get it: Organ meats (liver), egg yolks, dairy products, and salmon. Plant-based sources include sweet potato, yeast, avocado, cauliflower, nuts, and seeds.

4. Discolored Nails

What you need: Folate, AKA vitamin B9, which helps produce red blood cells and delivers sufficient oxygen to prevent your nails from being discolored. Natasha confirms that B9 “helps your body form new cells – and, of course, your nails are just another form of new cells.”

Where to get it: Citrus fruits, dark green vegetables, peas, beans, lentils, avocados, nuts, and seeds.

BTW, vitamin C and E also help prevent discolored nails. As we said earlier, vitamin C supports healthy nail growth, while vitamin E nourishes your cuticles and the skin around your nail. But a deficiency of either one could cause peeling, cracking, or yellowing nails.

Try Supplements 

Supplements are another way of feeding your nails what they need. Natasha recommends nail-strengthening vitamins like omega-3s, riboflavin, collagen, zinc, and keratin to “help strengthen your nails in addition to painting a balanced, healthy diet.” Plus, they have M.A.J.O.R benefits for your skin and hair game – count us in.

Apart from this, you should also be clipping and trimming your nails regularly. Check out our go-to hacks for strong and healthy nails.

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