Gelatin Supplements and Your Nails

Monday, October 23, 2017

Strong, healthy fingernails are beautiful and desirable. Marketing geniuses have capitalized on that desire for generations by making some pretty outlandish claims about products that are supposed to help the nails grow. Unfortunately, the vast majority of those claims are at best unfounded, and at worst, complete hogwash.

One of the oldest and most pervasive myths is that consuming gelatin will help strengthen and lengthen your nails. Produced by boiling the skins, tendons, and ligaments of cows, pigs, and oxen, gelatin has a long and storied history. But the ubiquitous product truly came into its own in the late 1800s, when Charles Knox discovered a method for granulizing the substance, making it readily available and easy to use for home cooking purpose. One of the great marketers of all time, Knox was adept at leaping to conclusions that might not exactly fit with the standards of today’s clinical trials.

Knox’s logic went something like this: Gelatin is made from cow hooves. Cow hooves are hard. Therefore, if you consumed gelatin, your nails will be hard…like a cow’s hooves!

There is a certain appeal to Knox’s claim. Gelatin is made up of processed collagen, which is a protein essential to the overall strength and elasticity of the skin, cartilage, tendons and ligaments. Perhaps it might also help improve nail health? The problem is, your nails aren’t made of collagen; they’re made of keratin, a protein that is not related to gelatin. Despite Knox’s century-old claim, there is no evidence that consuming gelatin has any effect on your nail health at all.

And just for the record, soaking your nails in a gelatin solution won’t help either. For strong, healthy nails, the Harvard Medical School recommends:

  • Keeping your nails trimmed short and smoothly rounded at the tips.
  • Wearing gloves to protect your nails from damage while performing manual labor.
  • Refraining from biting your nails.
  • Keeping your nails moisturized.
  • Using a nail hardener or clear polish to improve nail strength.