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Author Topic: What are the white lines in fingernails?  (Read 14100 times)

Conrad Berube

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What are the white lines in fingernails?
« on: 22/05/2008 22:03:05 »
Conrad Berube asked the Naked Scientists:

Hello Chris:

I have three questions:

When I was boy (back when mastodons trod the earth) I remember getting little white lines across my fingernails which obviously started at the cuticles and eventually grew out towards the fingertips. It was probably my dad who told me that these were calcium deposits. It's many years since I remember having produced these even though I take regular calcium (with magnesium) supplements. Was my dad's nail tale correct?

Conrad Bérubé

What do you think?


 

Offline Andrew K Fletcher

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What are the white lines in fingernails?
« Reply #1 on: 23/05/2008 09:19:32 »
It is unlikely to be caused by a calcium deficiency, as many people with these marks on their nails take more than their daily requirements, most dairy products contain high levels of calcium and cereals, certain vegetables, chocolate etc etc make sure we get ample calcium.

It is thought that zinc deficiency might be the cause, and of course fungal and yeast infections can also be prevalent when the nails are in poor health.

Yet, if we study the location of all the marks on the nails we often see a pattern indicating that these marks happen at the same time on each nail, again not always but many times when these spots and lines show up there is usually a pattern, a bit like the rings on a cut tree trunk recording a bad growth period due to a poor atmospheric season and larger ring growth when there is a good season.

It would be very interesting to conduct a study among a group of people living in the same locality to see if those with nail marks show a similar position in the nail to others. This could rule out environmental factors and narrow the search for an answer.

The bottom line is that physiology literature does not show how these lines occur either.

Personally, I think it may be due to something interrupted the flow of the compounds that enable the body to produce keratin which is the main component of nails and hair. This might even be associated with poor digestive acid production that causes the minerals to pass through the bowels rather than being absorbed into the bloodstream.

If this is the case then there might be a correlation with taking antacids and acid suppressors. 

So the next question is do you have problems with digestion? And if so do you take antacids or any other kind of acid suppressors?

Gone to check up on astronauts back soon :)

Back now :)
http://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/20070029270_2007025867.pdf  page 29 look at the nail condition of astronauts.

Schmitt - "I had been aware from the experience of previous crews that you could get rough or damaged finger tips and that your fingernails could lift right off the quick as a result of constantly reaching in the suit and getting a little bit of grabbing from the rubber bladder. Knowing that, I wore some nylon liners and also kept my fingernails clipped down as far as possible to delay the process. But, ultimately, all my nails were lifted off the quick and I can remember seeing blood under Gene's fingernails. There was nothing much else you could do about it; it was just a continuous, traumatic soreness which faded into the background."]
http://www.hq.nasa.gov/alsj/a17/a17.eva1post.html


Andrew
« Last Edit: 23/05/2008 09:56:41 by Andrew K Fletcher »
 

Offline RD

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What are the white lines in fingernails?
« Reply #2 on: 24/05/2008 15:37:49 »
Conrad Berube asked the Naked Scientists:

Hello Chris:

I have three questions:

When I was boy (back when mastodons trod the earth) I remember getting little white lines across my fingernails which obviously started at the cuticles and eventually grew out towards the fingertips. It was probably my dad who told me that these were calcium deposits. It's many years since I remember having produced these even though I take regular calcium (with magnesium) supplements. Was my dad's nail tale correct?

Conrad Bérubé

What do you think?

Nail images can be seen on this site ...
http://www.dermnetnz.org/hair-nails-sweat/nails.html
« Last Edit: 24/05/2008 15:46:08 by RD »
 

The Naked Scientists Forum

What are the white lines in fingernails?
« Reply #2 on: 24/05/2008 15:37:49 »

 

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