Nail Myths to Disbelieve
Well, those old wives have been at it again, tongues wagging with tales about what’s good for your nails that all turn out to be every bit as false as the myths surrounding the rest of you.
One perfect example is the gelatin myth. You know, the one that tells you that a packet (of gelatin) a day will keep the breaking nails away. The simple fact is that gelatin has absolutely no effect on the growth of your nails. I have had gelatin recommended to me by general physicians and dermatologists alike as a nail problem cure-all. That should tell you what they know on the subject.
It is quite true that some years ago in the twenties, I believe a radio-isotope study was done to determine whether gelatin turned up in the nails. Sure, it turned up all right, as would almost any food you might put into your body and thereby into your blood stream. But does that mean it does those nails any good? Emphatically no.
Recently the Federal Trade Commission barred one gelatin product from making false nutritional claims about gelatin drinks. The F.T.C. claimed that, in ads, the manufacturer falsely claimed that the protein in gelatin is high-quality protein that provides nutritional benefit. To the contrary, the complaint alleged, gelatin protein is a low-quality protein of very little nutritional benefit. Does that sound to you like the sort of protein that is going to benefit those protein-hungry nails of yours? Not to me it doesn’t, and since I find the stuff not only unpalatable, but downright un-swallowable, I prefer to get my protein in more edible ways. By eating practically any other sort . . . fish, cheese, yogurt, milk (you know how I feel about beef, so we won’t go into that), and fowl. As for gelatin capsules, forget them entirely. I even got a dermatologist to admit that it would take approximately fifty capsules to equal the contents of one packet of gelatin. So why bother, if it’s low-quality protein in any case? Leave the gelatin to making congealed salads containing all the good fresh vegetables and fruits you need for good health, and take your nails on to valuable proteins . . . the kinds that harden them up.
The second myth we come to is the calcium one. Back in the days of my protein-deprivation thanks to that low-carbohydrate-for-too-long nonsense I had calcium recommended to me by all sorts of
doctors. For, by then, I was losing my nails (as well as my hair) at a rapid clip and I was losing them down to the quick, which not only hurt, but got infected as well. Now that I have studied the subject more carefully, I am astonished that many of the physicians I respect mightily were among those recommending calcium for nails. Now calcium is important, all right, and you should never forget nor ignore it. But your nails are not made of calcium. Your teeth and bones are, but your nails are pure protein and that’s what’s required to keep them strong and healthy. Remember my protein recommendations from previous chapters and continually check the chart to make sure you are getting enough. For protein is what is going to salvage those nails for you, and, as your health improves, so do your nails.
Dr. Norman Orentreich has done as much research on nails as on hair, it seems, so let him say it for me. “Fragile nails that break and split are a problem to many. Such nail problems are apparently not due to calcium deficiency; there is little calcium in the nail; furthermore, people with calcium deficiencies do not necessarily have fragile or splitting nails.” Convinced?