The Link Between Brittle Nails and Menopause - Elektra Health

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Brittle nails

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SYMPTOM

Brittle nails

Brittle nails may not be the MOST serious symptom of menopause, but it’s still relatively common, bothersome, and deserves our attention.


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    The science

    Hot flashes, sleep disturbances, mood changes, and low libido may be the first symptoms we think about when we hear menopause (and for good reason!).

    But those rigid, brittle nails you’ve been dealing with? Turns out that’s a symptom, too.

    The science behind it is all hormonal. Estrogen levels begin to fluctuate during perimenopause before steadily declining. And because this key hormone is responsible for regulating our tissue’s hydration, keratin, and collagen levels, nails are affected big time (so is our skin, by the way, which is why it tends to get dry and itchy during menopause).

    Estrogen aside, other causes of brittle nails include hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) and deficiencies in vitamin B, calcium, iron (which can cause anemia), and fatty acids.

    Interestingly, nail problems are more common than you might expect. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, they make up about 10 percent of all dermatologic conditions and affect an especially high number of older adults. If you’re experiencing any significant issues with your nails, it’s best to see a dermatologist.

    What you can do

    We’re all about equipping you with the know-how to understand your symptoms, and we especially emphasize the specific, tangible ways to manage them. Our goal is to empower YOU to take charge of your menopause journey, starting today.

    A quick note about product recommendations…Elektra Health is not paid to feature any products. We just like them and think you might too, though we can’t guarantee any results.


    Lifestyle

    Exercise

    Although there’s no hard and fast evidence directly supporting the benefits of physical movement on nail quality, exercises such as yoga have been shown to help manage stress and lower cortisol, which supports overall hormonal health. In order words, it can’t hurt! And it may, in a roundabout way, even help.


    Nutrition & Diet

    Fill up on good-for-you fat

    Essential fatty acids, such as those found in almonds or avocado, are super important for nail strength.

    Incorporate iron-rich foods

    Animal-based products such as oysters and beef are chock-full of iron, as are plant-based foods such as raisins, lentils, kidney beans, and tofu. If you find that you’re still deficient (many of us are), consider a supplement…more on that below.

    Don’t forget about biotin

    Call it what you want — biotin, vitamin B7 — but we need it. 30 mcg daily, to be exact. Good news: one large egg contains up to 83% of our daily recommended intake. Salmon and pork are also decent sources.

    Collagen, anyone?

    To naturally increase your stores of collagen, sip bone broth or eat gelatin/bone cartilage from beef, pork, lamb, chicken, or fish — this can work wonders on our nails AND hair. A win-win!

    Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!

    It sounds obvious, but we had to say it. It’s SO important to hydrate from the inside out to support nail health. You’re drinking enough water when your urine is pale and clear!


    Holistic Practices

    Lather on the cream

    We want a good-quality hand cream containing vitamin E. Coconut oil is also great for massaging into cuticles to help grow hydrated, healthy nails — plus, it has added anti-yeast properties to prevent fungal infections, especially for those with diabetes.

    Give those nails a break from polish!

    Especially gel and acrylic.

    Avoid harsh nail polish removers

    Products containing acetone will dehydrate nails even further.

    Glove it up

    Always, always, always use rubber gloves when washing dishes (your skin will thank you, too!).


    Supplements & Over-the-Counter Solutions

    Supplements and over-the-counter solutions may be effective in supporting your nail health…if you choose wisely. We recommend consulting with your healthcare provider first to ensure you’re using something with optimal efficacy and safety (i.e. backed by clinical research) or consulting with Elektra’s providers. Here’s a quick primer from our team on how to go about selecting high-quality supplements.

    Oral collagen

    If you’re not getting sufficient collagen from food sources (bone broth, gelatin, bone cartilage), consider taking it in supplement form to support skin elasticity, nail, and hair health. HUM’s product has the added bonus of hyaluronic acid and Vitamin C as well.

    Hyaluronic acid

    Hyaluronic acid in oral supplement or topical form can help boost hydration.

    Biotin & calcium

    Both biotin and calcium can be taken in supplement form to strengthen nails and reduce ridges. Or try this supplement containing seaweed, biotin, and more.


    Prescription

    Hormonal

    Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is not prescribed for brittle nails alone; however, supporting nail health can be an indirect benefit of the treatment since it supports and balances out estrogen levels.

    Not sure if HRT is for you? Our full guide answers all your questions on what it is, how it works, who it’s best for, and why there’s so much controversy around it.


    Non-Hormonal

    Non-hormonal medications are not usually prescribed for brittle nails alone. Instead, they’re used to treat separate medical issues that may be leading to dry, brittle nails, such as hypothyroidism.

    If we’re talkin’ over-the-counter, then there are a few nail strengtheners containing pistacia lentiscus and hyaluronic acid that have been shown to help strengthen brittle nails. SI-Nails is a great example.


    We’re always keeping an eye out for emerging research and the latest clinical studies. Subscribe to our weekly Elektra Digest for the latest, science-based info direct to your inbox. Something work well for you that’s not listed here? We want to hear it! Shoot us a note at [email protected] (We’re human, promise.)


    Disclaimer: This information is for general educational purposes, and should not be used as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment of any health condition or problem.

    As with anything you put into your body, taking dietary supplements can also involve health risks. You should consult a medical professional before taking supplements and inform your doctor about any supplements, as well as any medications you already take, since there may be interactions.

    References

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    Learn more

    Hair loss SYMPTOM
    Hair loss
    Dry, itchy skin SYMPTOM
    Dry, itchy skin
    Elektra Guide to Nutrition During the Menopause Transition GUIDES & RESOURCES
    Elektra Guide to Nutrition During the Menopause Transition

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