QUESTION: Dr. Jo, my friend insists that her long, strong nails are due to the gelatin supplement that she drinks every day. Is this fact or ficition? Her nails are lovely, but is it gelatin or good genes?
ANSWER: Gelatin for long, strong nails? I doubt it. I think that eating or drinking gelatin for long, hard nails is more fiction than fact.
Many years ago, the Knox family developed and promoted the use of granulated gelatin. When they promoted the use of their gelatin, they advertised it almost like a nutritional supplement to strengthen nails.
Gelatin was made from animal by-products, and many believed that these would help make those that ingested them have strong nails, like animals had strong hoofs. I don’t think that there was ever any scientific evidence to prove this, and it is not believed to be true today. Our nails are made of keratin, and ingesting animal collagen will not strengthen them. However, there are things that we can do to have stronger nails.
Most damage to nails comes from outside sources, not actually from our diet. If we have a reasonably healthy diet, it should be enough to support our nails. How we care for our nails throughout the day is the most important factor in how long and strong they will be.
Having our hands in chemicals and water for long periods of time will make nails dry, brittle, and prone to splitting and cracking. We need to treat our nails like we treat our skin and trap in the moisture with good moisturizers. Those with lanolin and alpha hydroxy acids usually do well with the nails. Apply gloves if you will be in water or chemicals for a long period of time. After bathing or washing dishes, try to remember to moisturize your nails like you do your hands.
As for jello…if you like it, eat it anyway. Sugar free jello is a great dessert with very few calories. I would love some right now, with whipped cream, of course (so much for the calories).
Hope this helps. If you have more questions, send them my way.