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Brittle nails...what does this mean?

I've been vegetarian for a few years and vegan since November. My nails are breaking left and right. Does this indicate a deficiency of protein or calcium?
I am admittedly probably not taking in enough of either. I have been making an effort to eat beans and lentils almost daily. What else can I add in? I'd rather get my nutrients from food than supplements. I already take iron.
Thanks for any tips!

I think deficiency in zinc or essential oils.. maybe eat some more nuts? walnuts or almonds?

Thats all i can think of. Or add hemp oil to some meals, if you can get it. it is get stuff


Nails are made of Keratin (as is hair). General rule. . . things that are healthy for you hair is good for your nails too. If you get white spots on your nails that can be indicative of a zinc deficiency.

Protein and calcium help keep your nails healthy. Kale, collards and dark leafy greens for calcium. Make sure your are getting enough protein. Tofu is high in protein and calcium.


Thanks for the responses.
I actually don't have any white spots at all on the nails. They are just very prone to breaking right now. I do a green smoothie almost daily with Kale. I should add more in though. I forgot to mention that I do take 30mg of zinc for acne.  I will also try to eat tofu more than once a week.


Try a Spiru-tein (or other brand) shake with some soymilk. High in protein, vitamins, and the soymilk provides calcium. You can prepare and drink it down faster than the time it would take you to whip up something like lentils/kale.

However, if you admittedly don't eat "enough" of protein or calcium, then I would HIGHLY recommend supplementing. Chances are if you are missing those from your diet then you are missing other nutrients that you might not know about. It takes a lot of planning on a vegetarian diet to make sure you are getting all of your essential nutrients. You mentioned you are already taking iron. Replace that iron with a multi-supplement that has iron included (should be about the same size). There are great "green" vitamins out there that are vegetarian friendly and have a load of healthy stuff like spirulina and chlorophyll in them ( for example ).

As a woman, it is in your best interest to start supplementing calcium regardless if you are a vegetarian or not. For more that, please read .


How long has it been since you've had bloodwork done? Falling or coarse hair and brittle nails are one sign of thyroid problems. It was what put my doctor onto the trail that revealed my thyroid disease. The first test revealed my cholesterol was through the roof and so she checked the TSH, T3 and T4.
I've been in treatment for about 3 years now and my nails and hair are fine now. When they start being brittle I know it's time to have my levels checked.

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