And Then, One Day, They Just Stopped Growing…

The first thing I noticed was the ridges. Vertical lines, from the base of my fingernails to the tips. A bit like the grooves on a vinyl record – nothing too deep or obvious. My nails had always been pliable, bendable, more likely to tear like paper than to break or snap. That had changed; they’d become a bit brittle. Thinner, but drier and more prone to break than to tear. And they appeared to be growing slower than usual. Once upon a time, I could cut them short and grow them to an elegant length – worth shaping and polishing – within two weeks.

Thyroid tests – all blood tests – were perfectly normal. It’s been like this for several years, now. No better, no worse. I considered that all the polish I’d used a few years ago had damaged them, but it wouldn’t have damaged the nail bed; the damage should have been temporary, like the time I turned them green under leaky gel nails.

I read a member’s blog post on SparkPeople about using high dose biotin for the treatment of MS – which has nothing whatsoever to do with me, but I do have a cousin and friends who’ve suffered from it, so I was interested in reading about new ideas and research that could help them. The study on high-dose biotin looks quite promising for MS sufferers. And in following that Rabbit Hole, I vaguely recalled my doctor suggesting – when I’d first noticed the ridges in my nails – that biotin might be helpful. She hadn’t really sold me on it, but with no known adverse side effects, why not give it a try?

The Great Biotin Experiment

I’d already begun taking a multivitamin and a high-potency B-complex supplement, along with a general program of diet and eating “cleaner” – less processed – foods and exercising more. I’ve felt healthier and more energetic, but it didn’t appear to have any effect on my fingernails. I’m working to drop about 60 pounds over the next 7 months. A couple of weeks ago, I cut my broken, ragged nails – already fairly short – and added a biotin supplement: 10,000mcg. I just took it daily and hoped for the best. Win, lose, or draw, it couldn’t hurt.


After about a week, my nails appeared to be growing at their previously normal rate. I should note that biotin is not supposed to cause them to grow faster. Stronger, less brittle, but not faster. But if they’re generally healthier – maybe from the generally improved nutrition and supplementation, doesn’t it follow that the rate of growth might at least return to normal? It’s really too soon to tell. It could just be wishful thinking.

In the interest of scientific observation and accuracy, I’ve cut my nails short and filed them, as you see them above. I’ll update this every week or two.

UPDATE – 09/22/16


Can’t see that they’re significantly longer. None of split, broken, cracked, or peeled.

I’m not endorsing or recommending anything, at this point, nor has anyone asked me to – just experimenting and sharing the results.

UPDATE 10/14/16:

They finally reached the point where I have to start thinking of cutting them. Other than a coat of polish last night, I’ve done nothing to them since starting this experiment. They’re not growing noticeably faster, but they haven’t split, chipped, torn, cracked – they do seem to be regaining some strength and flexibility.

6 thoughts on “And Then, One Day, They Just Stopped Growing…”

  1. Mine grow well enough. There are a few longitudinal ridges which appeared and stayed on one or two nails (did I possibly slam the nail bed?).

    I take a lot of B1 – don’t know if that makes a difference for nails.

    Will be looking to hear about your experiments.

    1. I noticed, too, that those longitudinal ridges look like dashed lines, in some cases. Pretty sure it’s not an injury of any sort! Kind of fascinating (though my doctor wasn’t all that intrigued or worried, which was a relief Now I can just worry about the aesthetics of it all and conduct my little experiment without feeling a need for actual medical supervision! LOL)

      I was trying to remember which B vitamin, if taken alone, could make you deficient in the others. I know they’ve determined that one of them – B6, I think – if taken to excess, can cause nerve damage (the exact opposite of why any of us would take them at all, eh?)

  2. I’m still not sure of the logic which says you can cure something by a huge excess of a vitamin or nutrient, though I take a megadose of B1 every day because it helps some CFS people, and I appear to be in that cohort. I should do some experiments – but can’t afford the time, not when I’m in the middle of writing my magnum opus.

    If it takes quantities of any vitamin, the guess is that people deficient in that vitamin would simply not survive without it. So supplying an overdose on the theory that SOME of it gets to where it’s needed applies, and if the substance is not toxic, the deficiency victims will live.

    Externally supplied insulin, thyroid hormone, … the list is long, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.

    But it feels rather odd to be on that list, still kicking around, when our ancestors would have keeled over – and we wouldn’t be here! I don’t like feeling I’m a marginal human.

    Of course, at my age, few of those ancestors I’m talking about would have been alive, and the overdose of B1 I take is not required for life, but seems to make my brain function better. And nails with longitudinal ridges didn’t bother your doctor. But one wonders how the near future will go, with some medical puzzles getting solved, and others not even addressed (the CFS I’ve had for almost 30 years is still disbelieved by half of doctors!).

    Interesting world we live in.

    1. We lose the water-soluble vitamins we get “in excess” every day. This is why, until fairly recently, conventional wisdom was that you really couldn’t hurt yourself on megadoses of C or B vitamins – you’d just shed the excess through urination. You CAN get too much of a good thing – but it takes work.

      Now, the fat-soluble vitamins, like A and E, and some minerals, like iron, can KILL you, if taken to excess and not under a doctor’s supervision. (I was very sensitive to iron supplementation and had to switch prenatals; I’d quit taking them, and my OB/GYN asked why. I told him it was the only time I had “morning sickness” – the vitamins made me throw up. He explained it was the iron, switched me to a lower dosage of a different vitamin, and things were just fine!)

      I’ve never been taken with the various supplementation fads. Which is why I didn’t add biotin before now. The B-complex is the only supplement that’s ever produced NOTICEABLE results for me, and I am not at all surprised to hear that it helps with CFS – when I get enough of it, I’m wired, energetic, and mentally sharper. (I kind of wonder if it’s ever been tested on people with ADD or ADHD – I suspect it would either help them or send them spinning off the edge of the world. It packs more punch, for me, than caffeine. That’s not always a good thing – and if I start feeling a little TOO energetic, I back off. But that’s not the case YET – I feel terrific and my ability to focus is better. Never did figure out WHICH B vitamin to thank, so I just take the B-complex because it’s balanced and shouldn’t cause deficiencies in one B vitamin or another. A rising tide raises all boats, right?) I do TRACK how much I’m getting from food – using SparkPeople. Thiamin (your B1), niacin, and pantothenic acid are the ones I never seem to get more than about 30% of the RDA in in a day, even when my nutrition is top notch and I’m WORKING at it. I’d have THOUGHT it would be B6 or B12, right? Aren’t those the ones that are supposed to give us energy? Either my body’s not effectively using what I’m getting, or I need more than what ought to be “sufficient.” I rarely get more than 60-70% of any of them, but B12 is rarely very low. The B-complex is also key to a healthy metabolism, so I’m hoping that “energy boost” is also a “metabolic boost.” It should be.

      All vitamins are measured in micrograms, by the way. So the amounts we need to live are still very low; even 10Kmcg isn’t a LOT. It could be too much if stored in fat, but so long as there are “no known negative side effects,” or the ones that are known are noticeable and reversible, I’m not too worried.

      I try to get most of my Vitamin A from the veggies I eat (making it difficult to overdose, but easy to get enough). My skin is very definitely thanking me for this – always has, even as a teen. Plant-based Vitamin A is only converted to the kind you need IF you need it – so you’re not storing up toxic levels in your fat cells. Animal-based Vitamin A and some supplements can be dangerous, but a multivitamin rarely has enough (or the form) that you’d have to worry about. Only thing I use Vitamin A capsules for is to open them up and rub them on the occasional skin blemish, topically.

  3. I keep an eye on the statement that the water-soluble vitamins are okay in large quantities because they get excreted.

    So far no reports of toxicity for B1.

    But it doesn’t mean kidneys don’t have to do ANY additional work, so I’m open to the possibility that I’m missing something. I’d like to keep my kidneys around until I’m finished with them.

    I do watch the fat-soluble ones – same reasoning as you. There’s a lot we don’t know yet.

    I need to find the time to get my bloodwork, etc., done; I have the script, but haven’t made the effort because I was trying to eliminate a couple things first. Some of these, if problematic, will show up. Others, I’m not so sure the excesses will be picked up correctly on routine analysis.

    Live, learn, do the best you can with the information.

    1. A few articles that may be worth noting:
      “Only B6 has been linked to a possible side effect, nerve damage. And that was at higher doses–7,000 percent of the daily value (DV), taken long-term–than you’re taking.”
      “Because water-soluble vitamins and nutrients dissolve in water, the continuous supply your body needs calls for a steady daily intake, from the foods you eat, from the supplements you take, or from a combination of foods and supplements. Vitamins C, B12, thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, tryptophan, pantothenic acid, biotin, and folic acid are all classified in the water-soluble category.”

      “”Certain water-soluble vitamins in excess can cause problems, such as too much vitamin B6 can cause nerve problems, too much niacin can cause flushing, and excess vitamin C can cause kidney stones,” Frechman observes. Excess folic acid may also mask a vitamin B12 deficiency, which is more common in people over age 50.”
      [NOTE: I wouldn’t worry about niacin and flushing – and it’s only an issue with niacin, not niacinamide. But if you don’t know what it feels like, you could THINK you were having a heart attack. That would be scary and costly. Apparently, HIGH doses of B3 – niacin (but NOT niacinamide) have been used to reduce cholesterol, and could lead to liver damage over time. I’ve never taken enough to even experience flushing.]

      This looks like a good guide from a reputable source, as well:
      “Taking any one of the B vitamins for a long period of time can result in an imbalance of other important B vitamins. For this reason, you may want to take a B-complex vitamin, which includes all the B vitamins.”
      Look for the “Supplements” link and click it – then choose the supplement to read up on its pros and cons, and possible drug interactions and studies.

Comments are closed.