We get a lot of email about nails. Take a good look at yours, both fingernails and toenails, and learn why nails are a window to what is going on inside the body.


“I have white marks on my nails; what is causing this?”

“My nails have ridges and look terrible with polish.”

“After my RNY, my nails are thin and stopped growing!”


What has Bariatric surgery done to your nails?


Nails are made of Keritin, a specialized hardened protein that protects the tip of each of our fingers and toes. When the balance of the body is upset and keratin production is interrupted through a lack of an essential mineral, vitamin or protein, it eventually shows up as changes to the nails.

It can take months for the affected growth area to appear. By the time you notice, the deficiencies have often been going on for a very long time. There was a recent question by a five year post op who admittedly takes bariatric vitamins ‘off and on’ and wondered why she would always get terrible ridges across her nail when she would start taking vitamins. However, she had it backwards as someone who does not take daily vitamins is much more likely to have deficiencies affecting her nails as well as other body functions. As there was a long time delay, she never connected the appearance of nail ridges to the time when she had not been taking her vitamins.


Nail Situations and Possible Causes 

Formation of ridges is most often due to weakness in the digestive system resulting in compromised absorption of nutrients.

Malabsorption ridges. The first section of the small intestine, bypassed in the RNY procedure, absorbs nutrients from the food we eat. When this section has been bypassed, nutrients needed for keratin production are just not there.

Vitamin B, Iron or Zinc deficiencies may cause nails to have vertical or horizontal ridges in the nail bed

Dry brittle nails that split easily may indicate a deficiency of Protein, Vitamin B12, Vitamin A, Iron or Calcium.

Nails with white bands, dots or flecks may result due to a Zinc or Vitamin B6 deficiency.

Hangnails or dry cuticles may be caused by a dietary protein, Vitamin C or Folic Acid deficiency

Inflamed skin around the nail can point to a Zinc deficiency

Nails that have white spots or split easily may be caused by a hydrochloric acid deficiency in the stomach – as in RNY

Nails that grow slowly may be indicative of a Vitamin A or Iron deficiency

Discoloration of the nails may be due to a nail fungus

Pale nail color may occur due to Iron or Protein deficiencies as seen in anemia, kidney or liver disorders


We have bariatric surgery to become healthy and strong yet it takes a vanity issue such as losing hair or seeing ridges or lines across our nails to jolt us to question what could be wrong and worry about deficiencies. There are many of our customers using our Journey Hair Balance Formula who do not take multitamins – which says that for many, hair & nails are more important than overall well being. I am thankful they are getting a whopping dose of B vitamins in Hair Balance where at least they are unlikely to die from a hidden Thiamine deficiency. What. is. wrong. with. this. picture? 

Take care of yourself… if your deficiencies are so bad that they are stopping your nail growth, imagine what they are quietly doing to your organs.