I have Crohn’s disease. My fingernails are brittle and peeling. Could this be from a deficiency in a certain vitamin?

I spoke with you awhile back about different diets for Crohn’s disease. I have another question for you. My fingernails are brittle and peeling. Could this be from a deficiency in a certain vitamin? I am currently having a flare up with Crohn’s and I am at home on a TPN. I add iron and a multivitamin to my TPN. The doctor decreased the amount of TPN yesterday and he will be taking me off of it soon. As long as I am able to eat without vomiting or pain. How can I get my nails back to normal?

TPN (total parenteral nutrition) is administered through an IV into a vein. The mixed solutions provide calories through glucose (dextrose) and fatty acids in addition to essential amino acids to build and repair muscles and organs. Usually, an MVI (multivitamin intravenous) plus minerals are added as you did to the TPN solution.

The state of your nails may be due to the fact that you have been ill with Chron’s rather than a nutritional deficiency. Chron’s involves malabsorption of nutrients including protein and the resulting diarrhea is evidence that your body was not absorbing the food that you were eating. The amino acids (protein) in the TPN solution was needed to heal your intestinal tract.

Nails and hair are rigid protein structures and generally, reflect the overall health status of a person, not a vitamin deficiency. It is not unusual for the nails to become ridged or brittle during an acute illness, especially those involving fevers. Other nail changes like white lines in the nail occur because of damage to the nail bed when pushing back the nail cuticle. Until your nails become stronger, cut them even with the end of your fingers, don’t wear nail polish and wear gloves when your hands are in water for extended periods of time (dishwashing).

Given a nutrient-rich, balanced, healthy nutrition therapy with adequate protein, your nails will probably return to normal, but it will take 6 to 12 months for the nail to grow out from the cuticle to the end of your finger.