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How to improve brittle nails


By Stephen Small, Clinic Nutrition.

Around a fifth of the population suffer from brittle nails (onychoschizia). It’s more prevalent in women, (1) and it is a common cause of soft, thin, or splitting nails. As we age our body’s natural collagen production slows down, with the process beginning from around the age of 30. Lower levels of collagen lead to lower levels of keratin which can make your nails brittle and more prone to breakage.

Keratin is the primary protein in nails that helps to maintain your nails’ integrity and strength.  Also 95% of the hair follicle is made from keratin and, an interesting fact, the horn of a rhinoceros is made from keratin too. The main amino acids in keratin are: (2)

Brittle nails can also occur when our body is deficient in any of the amino acids mentioned above. A collagen supplement can boost amino acid levels and help maintain or improve nail health.

Most collagen tablet supplements contain low doses of collagen, typically less than 1,000mg or 1g.  There is no clear guidance on the optimum daily dose of collagen but higher strength, typically 8,000mg to 10,000mg (8g-10g) per serving per day will be adequate for most people.

How can collagen help improve your nail health?

Collagen is a structural protein and a crucial component of your skin, hair, nails, bones, muscles and other body parts. It contains almost all the amino acids that make keratin.

Some foods —animal skin, and bone broth— can naturally boost collagen levels in your body. However, it might not be possible for everyone to take these foods.

Moreover, long-term or high intake of red meat may increase the risk of: (3)

Collagen for Brittle Nails: What does the science say?

Below, we take a closer look at the potential benefits of collagen supplements for brittle nails, based on recent scientific evidence.

Collagen decreases frequency of broken nails

According to a 2017 article in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, a 6-month oral administration of collagen peptides promoted nail growth and decreased the frequency of broken nails in women aged between 18 and 50. (4)

Collagen reduces nail brittleness and peeling

In an 8-week study, participants receiving a supplement containing collagen, hyaluronic acid, peptides, and lipids had significant improvement in: (5)

  1. Nail cracking
  2. Nail brittleness
  3. Nail softness
  4. Nail peeling

Collagen significantly improves nail roughness

The roughness of the fingernail plate improved significantly in those who took a fish-derived type 1 collagen hydrolysate for 12 weeks. (6)

So, taking a collagen supplement can really help improve the health of your nails. For example, Cutizana from Clinic Nutrition is a liquid collagen supplement sold in salons and online.  It contains 10,000mg (10g) of type 1 & 3 collagen to support skin, hair and nails including all the amino acids for keratin production.  In addition, Cutizana contains Biotin, Hyaluronic Acid, Silica and Vitamin C for a complete beauty supplement.

The Bottom Line

Collagen contains most amino acids found in keratin, the building block of your nails. When your body lacks these amino acids, your nails can become brittle and rough, resulting in breakage or splitting.

Thus, taking a collagen supplement can safely and effectively improve brittle nails and boost nail health.

When choosing a collagen supplement, make sure to read the ingredients label and confirm that it contains amino acids that make keratin.


Stephen Small is founder of Clinic Nutrition Ltd, which has created a range of high quality, broad spectrum liquid supplements that are supplied to clinics, and direct to the consumer. The range includes, Vitaliti (for general health and wellbeing), Cartonica (for joint health) and Cutizana (for hair, nails and skin).




  1. Chessa, Marco A et al. “Pathogenesis, Clinical Signs and Treatment Recommendations in Brittle Nails: A Review.” Dermatology and therapy vol. 10,1 (2020): 15-27. doi:10.1007/s13555-019-00338-x
  2. Borowczyk, Kamila, and Rafał Głowacki. “The Influence of UV Varnishes on the Content of Cysteine and Methionine in Women Nail Plates-Chromatographic Studies.” International journal of molecular sciences vol. 22,22 12447. 18 Nov. 2021, doi:10.3390/ijms222212447
  3. Frank Qian, Matthew C. Riddle, Judith Wylie-Rosett, Frank B. Hu; Red and Processed Meats and Health Risks: How Strong Is the Evidence?. Diabetes Care 1 February 2020; 43 (2): 265–271.
  4. Hexsel, Doris et al. “Oral supplementation with specific bioactive collagen peptides improves nail growth and reduces symptoms of brittle nails.” Journal of cosmetic dermatology vol. 16,4 (2017): 520-526. doi:10.1111/jocd.12393
  5. Citation: Yagoda MR, Gans EH (2014) A Nutritional Supplement Formulated with Peptides, Lipids, Collagen and Hyaluronic Acid Optimizes Key Aspects of Physical Appearance in Nails, Hair and Skin. J Nutr Food Sci S5:002. doi:10.4172/2155-9600.S5-002
  6. Sun Hwa Lee, Hye Kyong Park, Hye Ji Lee, Ah Reum Jo, Eun-Ju Lee, Se-Hee Hwang, Hee-Chul Chung, Jin-Hee Lee, Do-Un Kim, Jongsung Lee, and Tae Kee Moon, “Oral Supplementation with Low-molecular-weight Collagen Peptide Improves Hydration, Facial Lifting, Dermal Density, Skin Desquamation and Nails: A Randomized, Double-blind, Placebo-controlled, and Maintenance of Effect Study.” Journal of Food and Nutrition Research, vol. 10, no. 8 (2022): 546-559. doi: 10.12691/jfnr-10-8-3.
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