About 10% to 15% of all men habitually bite their nails. Excluding those who engage in the behavior for psychological reasons (like obsessive compulsive disorder), a large number of men bite their nails for stress relief or in ill-advised grooming attempts. And while nail biting itself can perpetuate nail damage in the form of bleeding cuticles or nail-bed infections, it’s usually the lackluster appearance or condition of the nails that starts the ball rolling.
When nails are healthy, they are thick, pliable, supple and smooth. It shows the body is receiving adequate nutrients and hydration for nails to grow strong. Dry, cracked, splitting or brittle nails on the other hand, are a sign that the body is lacking vitamins and minerals essential for healthy nail development. Among these are vitamin E, vitamin A, calcium, and biotin. Of these, it is biotin that is most often in short supply within the body, and it is rarely included in multivitamins and supplements. However, it is easy to re-introduce into your diet with a quick leafy addition to sandwiches, salads, and soups.
Next time you’re in the produce section, grab a leafy bunch of swiss chard. You’ll find it bundled with a rubber band like raw carrots or celery or in certain pre-cut salad mixes like “super greens” or “winter mix.” In salad, swiss chard adds a tangy sharpness to plain iceberg and romaine lettuces. In soups, it adds a smooth leafy texture that’s similar to spinach. But best of all, swiss chard brings a bunch of fiber and biotin to the party. Fiber helps the body remove impurities that weaken nails, while biotin hardens nails with flexible strength, reducing chipping, snagging, tearing, and other breaks that just beg to be bitten. Another great idea is to keep some clippers handy so anytime you do get a snag you can quickly clip it off before you resort to using your teeth. With a good diet and a little hard work you can kick that nasty nail biting habit in no time.