My son has lots of white spots on his nails. Is this a vitamin deficiency?

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My 11-year-old son has lots of white spots on his nails. I seem to remember learning that a vitamin deficiency causes this. Can you tell me which vitamin and if there are any other problems that occur with this deficiency? Thank you.

White spots or lines that appear on nails are caused by trauma to the nail or by performing rough work. Your 11-year-old son may do some rough playing which may also be the cause. These spots or lines can also occur when the nail is forming and cuticles are pushed back too roughly. If his nails are thin, damage can more easily occur. These white areas will grow out to the end of the nail and can be trimmed off during a regular manicure. I checked with a doctor of Internal Medicine on this as well.

Iron deficiency may make your nail beds (pink color of skin under the nail) look pale pink or dish-shaped. Since there is very little overlying tissue, the small blood vessels under the nail are more transparent and reflect the iron in red blood cells, giving a pink cast to the skin under nails. Dish nails look curved and depressed in the middle, similar to though not as severely as the bowl of a spoon.

Acute illnesses including fever can cause a bump or ridge in a nail, which will grow out to the end of the nail that, can be trimmed off.

No, unflavored gelatin or vitamin supplements do not strengthen nails. Nails are made of rigid protein much like hair and contain sulfur. Therefore would be negatively affected if the protein in a person’s diet were restricted to very low levels as in malnutrition or starvation.