Informational Posts / My Personal Experiences

Weak and Splitting Nails and Hypothyroidism 

Weak and Splitting Nails and Hypothyroidism 

Our nails can perhaps surprisingly tell us quite a bit about our health (and thyroid health). Weak, brittle nails which break, split and peel easily can be a common sign and symptom of hypothyroidism and or Hashimoto’s

Rachel With Healthy Nails and Hypothyroidism

Thyroid Levels

The most common link between nail health and thyroid health is believed to be your thyroid hormone levels.

If you’re already on thyroid medication, then ensuring that your levels are optimal and not just ‘within range’ can be important, and if you’ve been told that you’re ‘only borderline hypothyroid’, yet are experiencing thyroid symptoms such as weak nails, then this can be evidence that you really may benefit from thyroid hormone replacement to raise even ‘borderline’ low levels.

At the very least, you should be having TSH, Free T3 and Free T4 tested for your thyroid health, but also testing Thyroid Peroxidase Antibodies and Thyroglobulin Antibodies is very beneficial. All of these tests form the full thyroid panel and give the complete overview of your thyroid health, unlike testing just one or two of them (which many doctors do). Ensuring that you are then optimised and not just within range can be the next step. See more information on what optimal thyroid levels are here.

It is worth knowing that you can order full thyroid panels yourself from online laboratories as well, with a UK lab shown here and a US lab here. Don’t stay under-treated or untreated if you have ‘borderline’ hypothyroidism and it’s causing you issues or symptoms.

Vitamin and Mineral Levels

It’s also common to have certain low vitamin and mineral levels alongside a thyroid condition. Many of us are surprised to find out that we also have low levels of iron/ferritin, B12, Vitamin D, Vitamin C, Zinc or Selenium, which can cause whole lists of symptoms in themselves.

When I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s, I was also found to be deficient in ferritin (stored iron) and very low in Vitamin D. As well as correcting these via supplementation, I also boosted my selenium, B12 and zinc levels too, via supplements for these as well as improving my gut health by tightening the loose intestinal junctions of my leaky gut. This meant that I started to absorb the vitamins and minerals in my supplements but also food, much more effectively. Eventually, I could come off of many of these supplements.

Most vitamin levels can be checked via your doctor, but in my own experience, they’re not always happy to check them if they think ‘you’re probably fine’. However, we all know that looking ‘fine’ and what’s going on inside can be very different indeed. So I have listed some places for ordering tests below.

Vitamin D: UK test option here. UK and US test option here.
B12: UK and US test option here.
Folate/Folic acid: UK and US test option here.
Ferritin: UK and US test option here.
Iron, T.I.B.C., Transferrin Saturation: UK and US test option here.

Other Possibilities 

Kidney issues, liver problems, psoriasis, respiratory issues and local trauma or injury to the nail bed can also be a cause of nail abnormalities, so it’s worth discussing these with your doctor if you have any concerns.

Using nail polish can also really affect the health of your nails, as I’ve experienced myself. My nails grow healthiest when left alone. When I used to apply regular nail polish, even a clear ‘strengthener’ coat which was marketed as something to help them, they were drying out, peeling and breaking very easily. After a couple of weeks of leaving them bare, open to air and water, they had fully recovered. Nail polishers are full of xenoestrogens which also interfere with the endocrine system.

What do your nails tell you about your health?

About Author

Rachel Hill is the highly ranked and multi-award winning thyroid patient advocate, writer, speaker and author behind The Invisible Hypothyroidism. Her thyroid advocacy work includes writing articles, authoring books, producing her Thyroid Family email newsletters and speaking on podcasts and at events about the many aspects thyroid disease affects and how to overcome these. She is well-recognised as a crucial and influential contributor to the thyroid community and has a large social media presence. Her bestselling books include "Be Your Own Thyroid Advocate" and "You, Me and Hypothyroidism".

1 Comment

  • Fee
    June 14, 2023 at 9:43 pm

    So interesting as I recently used nail polish and strengthening and my nails have been so brittle. My gp said my levels were ok in January and he doesn’t think I need them done after sending him photos of my nails. He keeps saying it’s my thyroid . Now wonderfing if its the nail polish that’s the culprit .


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