Your nails are produced by living skin cells however the nail itself is dead. The part of the nail you can see is called the nail body and the shape of it is a result of hereditary factors. The bottom of the nail is called the ‘root’ of the nail and is firmly embedded in a groove in the skin. The ‘cuticle’ overlaps the root and this is where the nail grows from.
As the nail cells divide and move upwards, they become thicker and tougher with keratin and when they die, they become part of the nail.
This dead cell material which is the nail as we know it, can vary in texture, strength and flexibility depending on the condition of the original living cells, the nail bed and your general health.
If your nails are not as strong and healthy looking as you would like, this may be an indication that your overall health and nutrition needs to be examined.
If you have ridges going lengthwise along the nail, you may have an iron deficiency, if there are white spots on the nails, a zinc or vitamin A deficiency may be the cause, while white pits or grooves can indicate anaemia or a calcium imbalance may be evident. You will need to see a professional to confirm this.
There are other factors which may weaken the nails, such as strong detergents, and constant barrage of chemicals from nail preparations.