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I'm Dreaming of a White Sale

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Hello! Long time Snopes reader here, but this is my first post.

Please feel free to chow me if this subject has been covered; I did a search, and couldn't find it.

I have a friend who claims that when his fingernails start looking weak, he eats some Jell-O to strengthen them. He claims that gelatin contains some sort of protein that is similar to the protein contained in human fingernails.

This sounds dubious to me. In the same vein as eating bull testicles to increase your virility, etc.

I tried to google it, but the majority of the results I could find tended to support his claim, unfortunately.

Please provide debunking information! (Unless, of course, it's true.)

Posts: 45 | From: Puget Sound, WA | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Unusual Elfin Lights
Happy Xmas (Warranty Is Over)

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FC, welcome to the boards.

The gelatin in Jello does have a constituent ingredient of the hooves in horses. It is highly processed so it is not exactly eating a horse hoof. Horse hooves are basically the equivalent of your fingernail.

I am not sure that it provides nutients for nails though.

Posts: 2064 | From: New Brunswick, Canada | Registered: Aug 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Xboxing Day

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Even if true the effect would start at the base and it would take a couple of months on a Jello diet until the whole nail had been affected.

Små hönor skall inte lägga stora ägg för då blir de slarviga i ändan

Posts: 1334 | From: Sweden | Registered: Feb 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Kathy B
Angels Wii Have Heard on High

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Boy, howdy do I feel old. Does no one else rmember the Knox Gelatin ads touting gelatin for strong nails? They even make "drinking gelatin" for the purpose. You can still find gelatin capsules that are supposed ot strengthen nails. In reality, this will only work if your nail problem is due to a true protein deficiency. And, in that case, there are lots better sources of protein than gelatin.
From Ask the Dietician
The question is: Does eating Jell-O strengthen your nails? Is this a question you might be able to answer?

Eating Jell-O (gelatin is the basic ingredient) or unflavored gelatin does not strengthens nails. Nails are composed of protein with a high sulfur content. All protein you eat is broken down and circulates in your body protein pool (as amino acids) that is used to build and repair muscles, organs and other protein structures like hair and nails. (By the way, excess protein is stored as body fat.)

Nail strength seems to be more effected by environmental damage (i.e. any work that hits the end of the nail like housework, dishwashing or gardening), trauma to the nail (slamming it in a door) or some prescription drugs drugs (steroids). People tend to use nails as tools which increases breakage and can lead to separation of the nail from the bed below which will show up as a white line under the tip of the nail. Nails are ten times more porous than skin and can become chapped (dry) which can increase breakage. Increased exposure to water (dishwashing, cooking and swimming) does increase chapping of nails. So, protect your hands and nails when washing dishes. While nail polish and artificial nails may tend to superficially protect nails, there doesn't seem to be a problem with nail products other than irritation or allergy to some chemicals in polish, polish remover and glue (formaldehyde, acetone and nathacrylate respectively).

Infants tend to have very thin nails that can be torn rather than cut. Finger nails tend to thin with age as nail growth slows in senior populations, but toe nails tend to get thicker in seniors.

Finger nails can reflect some nutrient levels though. If a person's nail bed (skin under exposed nail) is spoon shaped (depressed in the middle like a spoon) or pale rather than pink, it can reflect low iron in the blood (hemoglobin). Nails can develop side to side ridges (bows ridges) because of fever, inflammation in the body or a short term illness (acute). Fine longitudinal ridges from cuticle to nail tip tend to develop with age and are not significant. Protein malnutrition will effect nail growth and health since it is the building material that comprise nails. Biotin deficiency can be seen in nails (also as reddened skin) though it is extremely rare. There is no Recommended Dietary Allowances for biotin as it is present in many foods throughout the food chain. Other than that, once damaged, a nail takes approximately 9 months to grow from the cuticle (growing end) to the tip of a person's finger where it can be trimmed off. Other nail changes like white lines in the nail occur because of damage to the nail base when pushing back the cuticle or an abnormal hardening (keratinization) of the nail during formation.

The plural of "anecdote" is not "data."

Posts: 4255 | From: Sacramento, CA | Registered: Feb 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator

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