Q: My nails just suddenly started breaking all the time about six months ago, and I worry about what’s happening to my bones. Is there any correlation between the two things?
A: Most likely not.
Most people as they get older will suffer from brittle nails. The most common culprit is a lack of moisture. This can be easily remedied by rubbing olive oil or lotion onto the nails daily.
If you are accustomed to wearing nail polish or fake nails, removing these and allowing the nails to “breathe” will also help the situation.
Other potential (but less common) causes of brittle nails are iron deficiency anemia, fungal infections, and thyroid or parathyroid problems.
Brittle nails do not correlate with brittle bones; however, if you are a man or a woman over the age of 50, discuss with your physician about getting a routine screening test to measure bone density.
Dr. Brent Ridge is the health expert for Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. You can call and ask him a question live every Tuesday at 2 p.m. Eastern on Sirius Satellite Radio, Channel 112 (1.866.675.6675). You can also follow along as he learns to grow his own food and raise goats on his farm in upstate New York by visiting www.beekman1802.com.
Got a health question for Dr. Brent? E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.