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If you struggle with nails that are brittle, thin or prone to tearing, you've probably heard that you should start using a product like Knox Gelatin powder. Conventional wisdom has it that if you drink an envelope of gelatin mixed with juice daily or soak your hands in a gelatin solution, your nails will become sleek and strong. However, health-care professionals say that this isn't necessarily true. They advise that gelatin alone won't benefit your nails unless you consume it along with the vitamin biotin and make nail-care strategies a part of your regular routine.
Knox has been producing granulated gelatin since 1889. Gelatin is made from collagen, a protein that is rich in animal bones, skin and connective tissue. Scientific research indicates that supplementing your diet with gelatin may help reduce joint pain in arthritis sufferers and athletes; in recent years, Knox has produced special gelatin mixes and supplements that they claim can help protect your joints. Knox also produces NutraMix, a health drink that contains gelatin, vitamin C and biotin.
Does Knox Gelatin Help Your Nails?
Proponents of Knox Gelatin as a nail strengthener claim you should consume one seven-gram pouch of unflavored gelatin mixed into a glass of juice daily. Researchers at the Mayo Clinic, however, say that supplementing with pure gelatin won't make your nails stronger. Ask the Dietitian's Joanne Larsen, agrees, adding that even though your nails are made up of protein, eating protein-rich gelatin won't target your nails in particular. Protein supplementation will only help your nails if you suffer from a protein deficiency, but the collagen that gelatin is derived from is a different type of protein than the keratin that makes up your nails. Soaking your nails in a gelatin solution also isn't linked to stronger nails and may actually be harmful since excessive exposure to water can weaken your nails.
While gelatin may not help strengthen your nails, supplementing your diet with biotin may do the trick. Biotin, also known as vitamin H, is a B vitamin that is rich in foods like nuts, beans, eggs, whole grains and vegetables like mushrooms and cauliflower. Research studies indicate that biotin supplementation may help thicken your nails. MayoClinic.com recommends taking 2.5 milligrams of a biotin supplement daily if your nails break or tear frequently. Since Knox's NutraMix contains 100 percent of the daily recommended intake of biotin, people who say their nails are stronger after using this product may be experiencing the effects of the vitamin and not the gelatin itself.
Directions for NutraMix
Knox's NutraMix is sold as a sugar-free, orange-flavored drink mix divided into serving-sized packets. To use, stir the mix from a single packet into half a cup of cold water and allow the solution to stand, undisturbed, for one minute before drinking. The directions advise that you should consume NutraMix once a day for at least 30 consecutive days in order for your nails to get the full benefit. Since NutraMix contains the compound phenylalanine, you should speak to your doctor before using it if you are on prescription medications or are pregnant or nursing.
If your nails are a problem, make the following nail-care strategies a part of your daily routine. Protect your nails from water with gloves and rub moisturizer thoroughly into them at least twice a day. Avoid putting too much strain on your nails: don't use them to pry open things, don't chew on them and, if you use nail polish, choose a remover that doesn't contain acetone.