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Peeling Nails: should you file or not to file? Peeling Nails Treatment

peeling nail
Peeling nails is a problem many people deal with everyday.
The edges of the nails peel away in layers leaving the nails thin, rough, and vulnerable to breakage. Nail polish doesn't stick well to the soft peeling edges of the nails. They look bad, feel rough, and polish chips off easily.

The polish is especially prone to chipping on peeling nails because nail polish dries in a hard non porous sheet. The soft nails under the polish are porous and absorb water, then the nails bend, pulling away from the hard layer of polish which then chips easily.

You want to file off the peeling area to make the nail look better and hope that it will stop the peeling, but should the peeling part be filed off?

It's a good question. 

You feel the need to file off the peely stuff to make the nail look better but when you do, the nail becomes thinner and weaker. 

Should nail peeling be filed off?

Only lightly file the pieces of nail that are really rough and sticking up. Do not try to file away the edge of the peeling layers to make the nail smooth. It will make the nails too thin and weak. The nail will likely break at the thin filed area.

After lightly filing the really rough stuff off, apply a tiny bit of nail glue to seal the layers together. When in doubt, see an experience nail technician for nail care.

So what causes the nails to peel? Well, there are a variety of causes for peeling nails. The #1 cause is over exposure to water and chemicals such as cleaning chemicals.

Why Do Nails Peel?

Too much water and detergent
Excessive exposure to water and detergents removes oil from the nails. It disrupts the nail's natural oil/water ratio. The nail structure is compromised from the repeated wetting and drying process when exposed to water.

The nails are porous and absorb water which causes them to swell and lose the natural curved shape they have when dry. They become flatter and softer. After water exposure, the water evaporates, the nails dry and they resume their curved shape. 

The layers of the nails separate from repeated swelling and flattening when the nails are full of water followed by the contracting and curving when the nails are in their natural dry state. The bonds that hold the nail cells together are damaged resulting in peeling nails.

Read more about nail structure

Peeling your Polish
Peeling the nail polish off of your nails removes layers of nail cells along with the polish resulting in nail layering, peeling and thinning. The nail damage may not be evident right away but will show as the damaged area reaches the free edge of the nail. The same damage will occur from peeling off gel polish and nail enhancements including acrylic nails, gel nails, nail tips and nail wraps. 

Gel Polish Removal 
The scraping of the nail to remove gel polish that has not completely dissolved removes nail layers resulting in nail thinning, layering and peeling.  Also, filing to remove gel polish or dip powder polish can file away layers of nail.

Polish Remover
Overuse of polish remover and/or other solvents have removed oil from the nail and damaged the bonds that hold the layers of the nails together.

Over Filing
The nail plate has been over filed causing thinning and peeling of the nails.

Exposure to Things that Absorb Oil
Digging in the dirt, creating an art piece out of clay, working with paper and folding laundry are all things that will absorb oil and water from the nails.

Exposure to UV Light
Ultra Violet light can weaken the surface layers of the nails causing them the layers to separate. UV light exposure comes from the sun as well as from the UV light used to cure nail enhancements and gel polish!!!

Naturally Weak Nails
The nail matrix is short and produces thin, weak nails or the nail has weak cysteine cross-links holding the nail layers together.

Nails become weaker and more brittle as we age due to the cysteine cross-links of the nails becoming weaker and the nails and skin not being able to retain moisture as well as when younger.

Strong medications, including chemotherapy drugs, can weaken the nails.

Thyroid Disease
An overactive or under active thyroid can cause nails to become weak and peeling.

Circulation Problems
Nails can become weak if the matrix of the nail does not get enough nutrients from the blood to produce healthy nail cells.

Iron Deficiency
Anemia. Iron helps the body produce red blood cells. The matrix of the nail requires oxygen from the red blood cells to build strong nail cells.

Nutrition Deficiency 
The nail matrix requires nutrients from a healthy diet to produce healthy nail cells.

Treatments for Peeling Nails

how to strengthen weak nails
There are lots of things you can do to improve your peeling nails.

Limit Exposure to Water
Too much exposure to water is the #1 cause of peeling nails

Reduce the number of times you wash your hands each day. 

Apply lotion to your hands and nails right after washing. 

Avoid activities that involve prolonged soaking of the nails. 

Use waterproof gloves when cleaning and doing dishes. I know, you don't like wearing gloves when you clean but, you must wear gloves if you want your nails to improve!!! You don't have to wear big bulky rubber gloves. Thin nitrile gloves work great!

Sponges and scrubbers with handles are great for keeping your hands out of water while cleaning!
dishwashing tool with handle

Add Oil!
Oil is the magic potion for both soft peeling nails. Oil helps add strength to the bonds holding the nail cells together. Oil also seals in the natural water in the nail the same way a moisturizer seals water into the skin. A higher percentage of oil in the nails makes the nails more waterproof when exposed to water. 

Certain oils absorb into the nails more readily than others. Some oils that absorb easily into the nail are jojoba, olive, sweet almond oil, rice bran oil and avocado oil. You can apply the individual oil or use a blended oil product made for nails and cuticles.  Apply oil to bare nails or to polished nails. Your nails will still get some benefit from the application of nail oil even when you are wearing nail polish.  Apply oil to the nails and cuticle area a few times a day especially at bedtime.

My favorite nail oil product has been CND Solar Oil. I have seen clients have amazing results by using this product regularly, especially on bare nails. It contains sweet almond oil, jojoba oil, rice bran oil and vitamin E. 

CND also makes a keratin and oil product called RescueRXx to help damaged and peeling nails.

This product contains sweet almond oil, jojoba oil and hydrolyzed keratin to reduce peeling, splitting and white spots on nails that have been damaged from daily wear and tear. The oil will absorb into the nails. The keratin molecule is too large to absorb into the nail but the keratin protein will bond to the surface of the nail plate to help strengthen the nail. The keratin in this product is derived from sheep's wool.🐑

Apply it to nails and cuticle area 2 times daily as a 1 to 4 week treatment product. When the nail improves, switch to Solar Oil as your daily maintenance product. RescueRXx is highly effective when applied to the bare nails. It can also be used on polished nails but it's only 20% effective. This product won't penetrate through nail enhancements.

Avoid washing your hands for 30 minutes after applying oil or RescueRXx to allow the product to absorb into the nails and cuticle area.

Note: CND was a company that did not test on animals. I'm not sure that is still is. I may be switching the oil I use during manicure to Qtica Solid Gold Anti-Bacterial Oil Gel or Orly Cuticle Oil Drops. Both are excellent products!

Orly Argan Cuticle Oil Drops is an oil I like for the nails and cuticles. It's a blend of argan oil, jojoba oil and vitamin E to condition dry nails and cuticles. Apply a drop to each nail/cuticle area and massage in twice a day. Nails can be polished or bare. Orly does not test on animals.

Qtica Solid Gold Anti-Bacterial Oil Gel contains tea tree oil and citrus oils to fight fungus and bacteria on the cuticles and nails. It also contains nourishing oils and vitamins for the skin and nails. Apply a tiny drop of oil gel to each nail/cuticle area and massage in twice a day.

Ingredients: Rice Bran Oil, Sweet Almond Oil, Peg-40, Sorbitan Peroleate, Silica, Jojoba Oil, Menthol, Octyl Palmitate, Tangerine Oil, Peppermint Oil, Tea Tree Oil, Tocopherly Acetate, Fragrance, Lavender Oil, BHA, Retinol Palmitate, ergocalciferol (vitamin D2)

Burt's Bees Lemon Butter Cuticle Cream is another nice product to try. It says cuticle cream but it is wonderful for weak nails as well. Burt's Bees products are not tested on animals.

Ingredients: prunus amygdalus dulcis (sweet almond) oil, beeswax, citrus medica limonum (lemon) peel oil, theobroma cacao (cocoa) seed butter, euphorbia cerifera (candelilla) wax, beta-carotenerosmarinus officinalis (rosemary) leaf extract, tocopherol, helianthus annuus (sunflower) seed oil, glycine soja (soybean) oil, canola oil, vegetable oil.

Some essential oils are especially helpful for weak nails. The healing and anti microbial properties of myrrh, frankincense and lemon essential oils are particularly helpful for strengthening weak nails, according to Young Living. Most essential oils are too strong to apply undiluted to the skin. The proper way to apply essential oils to the skin is to dilute them by adding them by drops into a carrier oil.  My favorite carrier oil for skin and nail treatment is jojoba oil due to it's small molecular structure that easily penetrates the skin and nails. 

Essential Oil Recipe for Nails

1/2 ounce (3 teaspoons or 15 ml) Jojoba Oil
2 drops Myrrh Essential Oil
2 drops Frankincense Essential Oil
2 drops Lemon Essential Oil

Pour the jojoba oil into an ounce (30ml) glass bottle with eye dropper or 1 ounce roll on glass bottle. A funnel makes pouring easier. Add each essential oil. Close bottle and gently roll the bottle to blend the oils. Apply to nails and cuticle area and massage in twice a day.

Practice Good Nail Care
Get manicures
A weekly professional manicure is ideal for: 
stimulating nail growth, 
maintaining ideal nail length,
controlling hang nails,
getting the application of high quality nail products, 
getting therapeutic moisturizing treatments such as paraffin,
beautifying the nails, 
repairing of splits in the nails,
and getting great relaxation and social time!!!

Wear Nail Polish
Yes!🎉 Great news, right? Nail polish adds a temporary protective layer to the nails. It also helps reduce the amount of water the nails absorb when your hands are exposed to water. Nail polish will also protect your nails from UV light exposure. Do not peel off your nail polish. Use polish remover. Always remove or touch up chipped nail polish. The exposed nail in the chipped area is vulnerable to breakage.

Use good quality nail care products
I recommend Zoya nail polish. It's 10 free which means it's formulated without the hazardous chemicals formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin, dibutyl phthalate, toluene, camphor, TPHP, parabens, xylene, ethyl tosylamide and lead. Plus, it's long wearing on natural nails and the colors are gorgeous!

zoya all wrapped up quad

See Zoya Nail Polish Colors and Collections

I also recommend QTica Smart Spa hand and body products. They have lots of scrubs, lotions and masks in a variety of yummy scents. Plus, they contain nice ingredients and they do not test on animals!🐇 Use hand lotions and creams several times a day especially after doing an activity that is drying to the skin and nails.

Use the right Strengthener
If you are using a polish type nail strengthening product on your nails, be sure you are using the proper product. Different formulas are designed for different nail problems. 

For instance, Nailtiques makes Formula 1, Formula 2 and Formula 3. Formula 2 is for soft peeling, bitten, weak or thin nails. It is designed to harden the nails. Formula 1 is the maintenance formula to use after the nails have reach the desired results. Formula 3 is for naturally hard nails. It is designed to moisturize hard dry nails.
Our favorite polish style strengthening nail product at the salon is Nail Optimizer. We find it effective on both hard and soft nails.

Shop for Nail Optimizer

Try Zoya Gelie-cure
Zoya Naked Nail Gelie-cure System is Zoya's patented three step treatment to help repair damaged nails. The Naked Nail Gelie-cure System incorporates a LED light cured gel layer to seal in nourishing treatment products. You can use it alone or polish with regular nail polish right on top of it.

Read more about Gelie-cure from Zoya

I have used this system on a few of my clients and have seen positive results after just one treatment!

Get a treatment at Styling Point in Media, PA!

Limit Polish Remover
Too much nail polish remover is drying for the nails. Change your polish once a week at the most. There are acetone and non acetone nail polish removers. I prefer the quick acting acetone. Non acetone polish remover usually contains ingredients to reduce dehydration of the nails but they are less effective than acetone polish remover and you end up exposing the nails to the chemicals longer than with the quick acting acetone. Zoya Remove+ is a nice gentle effective polish remover.

Careful Gel and Dip Polish Removal
It is very important to allow gel and dip powder polish to soak and soften properly to avoid damaging the nails by scraping or filing the polish off. It can take up to 30 minutes of soaking to soften gel polish that has been over cured or has been on longer than 2 weeks. Make sure your salon allows plenty of time to soak off gel or dip powder polish. Always mention that you are wearing gel or dip powder polish when you schedule your nail appointment to allow plenty of time for soak off.

No Over Filing
Do not allow the surface of the nail plate to be over filed. Over filing thins the nails and causes peeling. Only light filing, enough to remove the shine on the nail, is required before application of nail enhancements. 

Protect your hands
Wear appropriate gloves to protect your hands drying elements. 

Wear garden gloves for gardening. My clients like to double layer them with thin cotton gloves underneath the garden gloves to really keep the dirt out. 

Wear white cotton gloves while dusting and folding clothes. 

Wear warm winter gloves or cozy mittens when you are outside in the cold dry air. 

Use a humidifier in your house to moisten dry air to help the skin are nails stay better hydrated. 

Always apply hand lotion after any dehydrating task.
Don't use your nails as tools
Technically, that is part of the reason we have them but using your nails as tools can weaken and break them. 

Use tools to do simple tasks that you would normally do with the tip of your fingertip or your nails. 

Use a key to open a pop top can. 

Scrape sticker residue off with a plastic scraper not your nail. Guitar picks make great scrapers!

Get guitar picks on Amazon!

Always take your time doing daily tasks. Rushing only increases the chances of your hand slipping off car door handle or your nails jamming into the bathroom tile and breaking your nails!

Check your Health
Improve Circulation
The massage portion of your manicure does more than just feel good! It actually stimulates the blood circulation to your finger tips. Sometimes a medical condition, such as Raynaud's disease, causes poor circulation to the hands. 

You can help increase the circulation to your hands a few simple ways at home. Always check with your doctor concerning a medical circulation problem before starting any program to increase circulation. Here are some ways to get the blood flowing!

💅 Massage your hands and fingers with hand lotion every day for 3-5 minutes on each hand.

💅 Use one of those squishy balls made for stress relief and hand exercise to increase circulation to your hands.

💅 Stand with your hands at your side then bend your elbows and shake your hands in a downwards motion to force blood to your hands. 

💅 Stand with your arms outstretched at your sides. Now twist from your waist from side to side about 10 times to force blood to your hands. 

💅 Clench your hands into a fist. Squeeze for 10 seconds. Then, open your hands stretching your finger out for 10 seconds. Repeat 10 times.

Stop Smoking!
Smoking causes circulation problems especially to the extremities. Poor blood circulation means the nail matrix can't get the nutrients it needs to make healthy nails.

Have your thyroid checked
If your nails have become weak with frequent breakage, it could be your thyroid to blame. I have had a number of clients who had beautiful nails that became weak and brittle. Blood tests revealed thyroid and para thyroid issues. The nails gradually returned to their former state once the thyroid problems were treated. 

Have your iron level checked
It's a good idea to have your iron level checked as well. An iron deficiency can also lead to weak nails. The nails take about 6 months to grow from the cuticle to the free edge so it will take some time to see improvement in the nails after increasing you iron intake.

Medication Issues
Some anti-biotics, chemo therapy drugs, anesthesia drugs and more can interfere with nail growth. Check with your doctor or pharmacist if you are concerned that your medication is causing peeling nails. Maybe there is an alternative medication option.

Drink Water
Drink plenty of water each day to keep the body hydrated and working in tip top shape. The experts recommend eight 8 ounces glasses of water each day. Eating fruits and veggies that have high water content, such as watermelon and cucumbers, help you stay hydrated too. 

healthy foods
I'm all about beauty foods! Eating a healthy diet should provide all the nutrients the body needs to create healthy nails. Sometimes, deficiencies can occur from medications, diseases, disorders and diets. Those eating a gluten free diet can be low in Vitamin D, some B Vitamins and minerals including iron, magnesium, zinc and calcium. Those eating a vegan diet may be low in B12, iron, calcium and zinc. 

Research shows it's best to get our nutrients from foods as opposed to supplements. However, there are times when supplements are necessary in the case of a severe nutritional deficiency. 

There are certain vitamins, minerals, fatty acids and amino acids that are necessary to build strong keratin for healthy, tough nails. 

Amino acids are important protein building blocks our bodies use to create keratin protein that our nails, skin and hair are made of. There are 9 essential amino acids, 7 conditional amino acids and 5 non essential amino acids. Essential amino acids must be eaten through our diet. Conditional amino acids are synthesized by the body but the body may not produce enough during illness, hard exercise or in young children. Non essential amino acids are synthesized by various systems in our bodies.

In a nutshell, you need vitamins, minerals, healthy fats and protein to grow healthy nails. A healthy diet full of beauty foods! Here are all the details:

Vitamins for Healthy Nails

Vitamin A
Vitamin A is needed for keratin protein production. It also prevents keratin cells from breaking down and it supports circulation to the nail beds.

Foods containing Vitamin A include fish oils, fortified dairy products and egg yolks. 

Beta Carotene is converted to Vitamin A in the body. 

Foods containing beta carotene include apricots, broccoli, butternut squash, carrots, cantaloupe, dark leafy greens, egg yolks, dried herbs: parsley, basil, marjoram, dill and oregano, kale, peas, pumpkin, romaine lettuce, red bell peppers, spices: paprika, chili powder, cayenne pepper, spinach and sweet potatoes.

Vitamin D
Vitamin D regulates the development and growth of keratin.

Many of us have low Vitamin D levels. One reason is the high use of sunscreens, which is a good thing for protecting our skin from UV damage but a bad thing for Vitamin D levels. Bare skin produces vitamin D when exposed to the UV rays from the sun. It doesn't take a large amount of sun exposure to get the Vitamin D you need, maybe 15 minutes 3 times a week depending on your skin color. 

Another reason for low Vitamin D is, it is not found in many foods. Foods containing Vitamin D are cod liver oil, egg yolks, fatty fish such as salmon and tuna, and mushrooms that have been grown in the sunlight. Foods fortified with Vitamin D include: almond milk, dairy products, cereals, orange juice and soy milk.

Vitamin C
Vitamin C helps us absorb iron from vegetable iron sources. It prevents the breakdown of the keratin cells, improves the circulation to the nails beds and is necessary for collagen and amino acid formation. 

Vitamin C is found in brightly colored fruits and vegetables including bell peppers, broccoli, blackberries, blueberries, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cantaloupe, citrus fruits, cranberries, kale, mangoes, papaya, pineapple, potatoes, raspberries, spinach, strawberries and tomatoes.

B Complex Vitamins: Biotin (B7), Folate (B9), Pyridoxine (B6) and Cobalamin(B12)
B vitamins helps form healthy keratin cells, healthy nail beds which support the nails and red blood cells which carry nutrients to the nail matrix. A deficiency can result in nail ridges, soft nails that break easily and nails that split along the ridges. 

This vitamin is needed for cell metabolism, for building keratin cells for healthy nails, skin and hair as well and preventing nail infections. 

Foods high in biotin include almonds, avocados, bananas, barley, cauliflower, cheeses especially blue cheese, eggs, lentils, mushrooms, oats, peas, peanuts, pecans, salmon, spinach, sunflower seeds, sweet potato, walnuts and yeast. Meat sources: organ meats. 

Folate is important for red blood cell production, the formation of non essential amino acids and the generation and growth of new cells. 

Foods containing folate include almonds, asparagus, avocado, beets, black beans, black-eyed peas, beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, chick peas, citrus fruits, collard greens, corn, flax seeds, lentils, lima beans, mustard greens, peanuts, pinto beans, pumpkin seeds, red kidney beans, romaine, sesame seeds, spinach, split peas, sunflower seeds and turnip greens. Meat sources: Liver

Pyridoxine (B6)
B6 is important for cell functions and for the formation of non essential amino acids and hemoglobin. It also keeps blood vessels healthy. 

Foods high in Vitamin B6 include avocados, bananas, black strap molasses, bread, eggs, fortified cereals, pinto beans, pistachios, potatoes, whole grains including oatmeal, rice, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, sweet potatoes and wheatgerm. Meat sources: chicken, fish, turkey and grass fed beef.

Cobalamin (B12)
B12 is necessary for red blood cell production and the formation of non essential amino acids.

Foods high in Vitamin B12 include cottage cheese, eggs, feta, fortified soy products, milk products, nori, nutritional yeast and shitake mushrooms. Meat sources: beef, fish, liver and shell fish.

Minerals for Healthy Nails

Iron is necessary for hemoglobin. Hemoglobin provides oxygen to the matrix to create healthy nail cells. Nails that are concave with many ridges (a condition called koilonychia) can be a result of iron deficiency anemia. A bluish nail bed is also a sign of a lack of iron. 

Eat iron foods with Vitamin C foods to help the body absorb vegetable based iron. Avoid calcium, tea and coffee when eating iron rich foods for better absorption.

Foods high in iron include apricots, baked beans, black beans, black-eyed peas, broccoli, brown rice, chick peas, dried fruit, fortified cereals, kale, lentils, peas, pistachios, prunes, pumpkin seeds, quinoa, raisins, red kidney beans, roasted almonds, roasted cashews, sesame seeds, soybeans, spinach, spirulina, sunflower seeds, tofu, walnuts, watercress, whole grain and enriched breads.  Meat sources include lean beef, clams, chicken, liver, oysters, mussels and turkey.

Have a little dark chocolate for dessert! It's got iron. 

Magnesium is needed for enzyme processes that construct keratin. Vertical ridges and brittleness in the nails can be signs of a magnesium deficiency. 

Foods high in magnesium include almonds, avocados, bananas, barley, black beans, brazil nuts, chia seeds, chickpeas, collard greens, dark leafy greens, flax seeds, kale, lentils, mustard greens, oats, peas, pumpkin seeds, quinoa, soybeans, spinach, sunflower seeds, tofu, turnip greens and wheat. Meat sources include halibut, mackerel, salmon.

Have a little more dark chocolate for dessert! It's got magnesium.

Nitrogen is part of all the amino acids used to make proteins. It is found in protein foods and high purine foods. 

Foods high in nitrogen include asparagus, cauliflower, cheese, eggs, milk, nuts, oats, peas, seeds, soy beans, spinach and tofu. Meat sources include fish, meat, poultry and shellfish.

This trace mineral is an antioxidant which prevents free radical damage to hemoglobin. 

Foods high in selenium include brazil nuts, eggs, mustard seeds, navy beans, oats, pasta, pinto beans, sesame seeds, shitake mushrooms, spinach, sunflower seeds, whole wheat breads. Meat sources include: chicken, beef, halibut, liver, salmon, sardines, tuna and turkey.

This important trace mineral is needed for connective tissue formation and it supports healthy bones, hair, nails and nails. 

Foods high in silicon include barley, beer, bran cereal, brown rice, dried fruit, green beans, oats, mineral water, nuts, red wine and whole grain bread.

Zinc is needed for enzyme processes that construct keratin. 

Foods high in zinc include almonds, cashews, chickpeas, peas, peanuts, peanut butter, pecans, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds and wheat germ. Meat sources include chicken, crab, pork, oysters and turkey. 

Finish with it off with a little dark chocolate! It's got zinc.

Fatty Acids for Healthy Nails
Essential Fatty Acids are polyunsaturated fats that help the body absorb nutrients. They also help to condition the nails, as well as the hair and skin. Most of us get plenty of Omega 6 fatty acid from our diets. In fact, sometimes too much! There should be a balance between the omega 6 and omega 3 fatty acids that you eat. A 4:1 ratio or lower is recommended. Anti aging experts say to increase your omega 3 intake and reduce your omega 6 intake to equal a 1:1 ratio. Many foods contain both omegas but in different amounts.

Omega 3 Fatty Acid
Omega 3 fatty acid (alpha-linolenic acid) is often lacking in our diets. Omega 3's are important for lowering inflammation and helping the body produce strong keratin. 

Foods high in omega 3 fatty acid include arugula, Brussels sprouts, canola oil, chia seeds, collard greens, enriched eggs, flax seeds, flax seed oil, hemp seeps, hemp seed oil, kale, pumpkin seeds, spinach and walnuts. Fish sources include fish oil, salmon, tuna mackerel and sardines.

How do you enrich an egg with omega 3, you ask? Feed the hens flax seeds!🐔

Omega 6 Fatty Acid 

We get plenty of omega 6 fatty acid (linoleic acid)! Mostly from refined oils (including corn oil, cotton seed oil, soybean oil and sunflower oil) from seeds and vegetables and processed fast foods, cookies, crackers, cakes and other foods made with those oils. Avoid refined oils and processed foods to reduce your omega 6 intake and help create a better balance between omega 3 and omega 6.

Healthy foods high in omega 6 fatty acid include black currant oil, egg yolks, evening primrose oil, flax seeds, flax seed oil, grains, hemp seeds, hemp seed oil, peanut butter, pine nuts, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, raw sunflower seeds, tofu and walnuts.

Amino Acids for Healthy Nails
We need all 21 of the proteinogenic amino acids to build proteins and maintain healthy bodies. The amino acids most beneficial for the formation of healthy nails are Histadine, Lysine, Arginine, Cysteine, Methionine, Serine, Proline, Glutamine, Glycine and Threonine. Foods classified as high protein foods contain amino acids as well as some unexpected veggie foods like celery and cucumbers.

Keratin protein contains this essential amino acid. You have to eat it!

Foods high in histidine include include apples, alfalfa sprouts, almonds, beets, black beans, carrots, celery, chia seeds, chickpeas, cucumber, dandelion greens, eggs, endive, flax seeds, garlic, lentils, milk, parmesan cheese, peanuts, pistachios, pomegranates, pumpkin seeds, quinoa, radishes, romano cheese, seitan, sesame seeds, soybeans, sunflower seeds, tempeh, turnip greens, watermelon seeds, wild rice and yogurt. All meats, poultry and fish contain histidine.

Keratin protein contains this essential amino acid. It is an essential building block for all proteins of the body. You have to eat it!

Foods high in lysine include almonds, black beans, cashews, chia seeds, chickpeas, cranberry beans, eggs, flax seeds, kidney beans, milk, parmesan cheese, pinto beans, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, quinoa, sesame seeds, soybeans, split peas, sunflower seeds, tofu, white beans and yogurt. All meats, poultry and fish contain histidine.

Keratin protein contains this conditional essential amino acid that is produced from glutamine by the kidneys and small intestines. This amino acid is essential for young children. Bonus: arginine promotes healthy hair growth and supports collagen production for firmer skin!

Foods high in arginine include alfalfa sprouts, beets, carrots, celery, chickpeas, cucumber, eggs, green peppers, lentils, milk, nutritional yeast, milk, oats, parmesan cheese, parsnips, peanuts, potatoes, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, radishes, romano cheese, sesame seeds, soybeans, spirulina, tempeh, tofu, turnip greens, watermelon seeds, walnuts, wheat germ and yogurt.  All meats, poultry and fish contain arginine.

The cross-link bonds that hold the nail cells together are made of this conditional essential sulfur containing amino acid which is produced by the body by using the amino acids serine and methionine. It also helps to counteract the negative effects of drinking alcohol!

Foods high in cysteine include brazil nuts, chia seeds, chickpeas, eggs, fava beans, flax seeds, lentils, milk, oats, oat bran, parmesan cheese, peanuts, pine nuts, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, quinoa, sesame seeds, soybeans, sunflower seeds, split peas, swiss cheese, tofu, watermelon seeds, wheat germ, white beans, wild and brown rice, walnuts and yogurt. All meats, poultry and fish contain cysteine. 

This essential sulfur containing amino acid is used by the body to produce cysteine. You have to eat it! Bonus: methionine can help prevent premature graying of the hair! 

Foods high in methionine include black beans, brazil nuts, cashews, chia seeds, chickpeas, eggs, flax seeds, kidney beans, milk, oats, parmesan cheese, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, quinoa, sesame seeds, soybeans, sunflower seeds, tofu, watermelon seeds and yogurt. All meats, poultry and fish contain methionine. 

This conditional essential amino acid is formed by the body using glycine, threonine & B vitamins. It is used by the body to produce cysteine. 

Foods high in serine include almonds, asparagus, barley, cabbage, cauliflower, chickpeas, carob seeds, eggs, fenugreek, kidney beans, lentils, lima beans, milk, parmesan cheese, pasta, peanuts, peanut butter, pistachios, quinoa, romano cheese, sesame seeds, spinach, soybeans, tofu, walnuts, wheat germ and yogurt. All meats, poultry and fish contain serine.

This conditional amino acid is produced by the body from the amino acid glutamine.

Foods high in proline include alfalfa sprouts, asparagus, avocado, bamboo shoots, broccoli rabe, chickpeas, chives, cottage cheese, cucumber, eggs, feta, milk, mushrooms, parmesan cheese, peanuts, quinoa, seitan, soybeans, spinach, spirulina, tofu, watercress, wheat and yogurt. All meats, poultry and fish contain proline.

This conditional essential amino acid in produced by the the body through the muscles. It's the most abundant amino acid in the body and promotes the production of skin cells. Bonus: glutamine slows aging of the skin!!! Raw veggies contain the most glutamine.

Foods high in glutamine include almonds, asparagus, broccoli, cabbage, chickpeas, cilantro, collard greens, eggs, hazelnuts, kale, kidney beans, grass fed milk, lentils, parsley, peas, peanuts, pistachios, red cabbage, radish greens, ricotta cheese, soybeans, spinach, spirulina, tofu, walnuts, whey, and yogurt. All meats, poultry and fish contain glutamine.

Glycine is a conditional essential amino acid needed for the production of red blood cells and for collagen production. Bonus: it's also an antioxidant that prevents aging. The liver forms glycine from serine and threonine.

Foods high in glycine include bananas, beans, cabbage, cauliflower, cucumber, eggs, kale, kiwi, milk, oranges, parmasan cheese, pumpkin, pumpkin seeds, quinoa, soy, spinach, squash seeds, tofu, wheat germ and yogurt.
All meats, poultry, fish and gelatin contain glycine.

Threonine is an essential amino acid is needed for the body to make serine. You have to eat it!

Foods high in threonine include almonds, black beans, cashews, chia seeds, chickpeas, cranberry beans, eggs, flax seeds, kidney beans, lentils, milk, parmesan cheese, peanuts, pinto beans, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, quinoa, sesame seeds, soybeans, sunflower seeds, tempeh, tofu, watermelon seeds, white beans and yogurt. All meats, poultry and fish contain threonine. 

How much protein do I need?
People tend to worry about getting enough protein, especially if they are vegans or vegetarians. They also worry about eating a complete protein at one meal. A complete protein contains all 9 essential amino acids. Animal products are complete proteins, meats, poultry, fish as well as dairy products and eggs.

There are some plant food that are actually complete proteins including avocado, beans: black, cranberry, french, pink, white, winged, yellow and soy, buckwheat, chia seeds, chickpeas, chestnuts, Ezekiel bread, hemp seeds, pistachios, potatoes, pumpkin seeds, quinoa, seitan, spinach, spirulina, split peas, and tofu. The problem is some of those plant foods may have a low amount of one or two amino acids so they are not considered to be high quality proteins.

You can make them high quality, though. Vegetable protein sources can be eaten in a combination of complimentary protein foods to get sufficient amounts of the 9 essential amino acids to create a high quality complete protein. 

Combine a legume, which are beans, lentils and peanuts, with a grain, such as rice or wheat, to create a high quality complete protein. Or combine a legume with nuts or seeds to create a high quality complete protein.

For instance, the protein in wheat is low in lysine. Chickpeas are high in lysine. The combination of hummus and pita bread creates a high quality complete protein.

Many beans low in methionine but high in lysine.
Rice is high in methionine but low in lysine. Together they make a high quality complete protein.

A peanut butter and jelly sandwich is another example of a high quality complete protein. A trail mix containing peanuts and sunflower seeds is a complete protein.

All the research I have done shows that as long as you are eating a variety of protein foods that provide the 9 essential amino acids throughout the day over a period of a day or two, your body will be getting all the proteins it requires.

As for actual grams of protein needed daily, there is a formula to calculate the amount of protein you need for your body weight, 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. Don't like math? Me neither! Here is a link to a handy protein calculator. It's pretty great! The RDA is 46 grams of protein for the average sized woman and 56 grams of protein for the average sized man per day.

I have lots of healthy, yummy vegetarian recipes full of protein beauty foods to help your body build grow strong, beautiful and young looking hair, nails and skin. A new Jill's Beauty Foods blog may be in order to share all of these recipes!!! Stay tuned. In the mean time, you can visit the Recipes: Food and Skin Care page on The Juicy Beauty Word.

I hope my Remedies for Peeling Nails post helps you get your nails on the road to recovery. You can always come to see me at Styling Point in Media, Pa for some skin care and nail TLC!

All that TLC should improve your nail peeling problem.

       Have a Beautiful Day! 
Licensed Cosmetologist, Esthetician, Makeup Artist

 Wedding, special occasion or everyday makeup and skin care services available in the Philadelphia, Pa. area. Visit my makeup page for more information!

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