Last month’s article on nails was very well received with several inquiries. The nails are great because for the most part they are quite visible. We can see what is going on. There is much we can learn from what we can see on the body. I will be continuing this theme in the next several newsletters.

Back to the nails.

The condition of your nails, colors of the nails and nail bed, as well as shape of the nails can be indicative of specific nutrient deficiencies or organs under stress.

Here are some common indicators of nutrient deficiencies:

Are your nails soft, tear or peel easily, and have opaque white lines? This may be a PROTEIN deficiency.

Are your nails dry, brittle, and break easily? Do they have horizontal or vertical ridges? This may be a CALCIUM deficiency. (Be aware that sometimes dry and brittle nails may be caused by excessive exposure to solvents, detergents, nail polish, and nail polish remover.)

Are your nails thin, flat, or spoon-shaped? Do you have white or yellow nail beds? This may be a sign of IRON deficiency.

Do you have white spots or bands on your nails or in the nail bed? This may be a sign of ZINC deficiency.

Do you have a yellow nail bed? Do your nails not grow or grow very little? This may be a VITAMIN E deficiency.

Do you have darkened nail beds? This may be a VITAMIN B12 deficiency.

Impaired circulation to the extremities may also contribute to any of the above conditions. Another concern may be digestion. If you remember from my digestion and hydrochloric acid article (, sufficient HCl is essential for proper absorption of calcium, iron, zinc, and B12.

Here are some common indicators of organs under stress:

Do your nails have red circular spots or are they narrow? This may be a sign of stress on the heart.

Are your nails brittle or break easily or have shoot like growths? Are they blackish or yellow? This may be a sign of low functioning thyroid.

Do your nails have ridges and easily tear or split? This may be a sign of adrenal weakness, particularly if you are under a lot of stress.

Are your nails very short and wide? That may be a sign of infertility.

Do your nails have dark lines that move with growth of the nail? That may be a sign of internal bleeding.

Are your nails triangular shaped? That may be a sign of rheumatoid arthritis.

Do you have white nail beds or white coloration near the cuticle with dark coloration near the tip? This may indicate liver or kidney stress.

Are your nails clubbed and convex? This may indicate respiratory issues.

Bernard Rosen, PhD is a Nutrition Consultant and Educator. He works with individuals, groups, and at corporations to create individualized nutrition and wellness programs. His office is in Mequon, WI. To learn more or to schedule an appointment, e-mail at, call (262) 389-9907 or go to