Nourishing nails from within

It has long been thought that collagen is good for the nails, and now there’s clinical proof that this is true. GELITA’s VERISOL collagen peptides deliver multiple benefits in the treatment of brittle nail syndrome

First impressions count. For women in particular, skin, hair and nails are the essential elements of a beautiful outer appearance.

Being aware of one’s beauty is a huge confidence booster — but it can be much more than that. In many jobs, well-tended hands and nails are a “must have.” Hands are like a personal business card and they say a lot about who we are. Nails provide an opportunity to customise our appearance or ring the changes with colourful lick of polish.

For many women, however, beautiful nails are hard to achieve — even with a lot of care. In many cases, this is caused by brittle nail syndrome, a condition that has thus far proven difficult to treat or manage. Now, however, GELITA has investigated the effects of collagen peptide supplementation on nail health, and the results are very promising.

A common concern

Brittle nail syndrome is a very common problem characterised by increased fragility of the nail plate (Figure 1), as well as nail roughness, raggedness and peeling (Figure 2). Approximately 20% of the population is affected, with women twice as likely to suffer as men. Patients usually complain that their nails are soft, dry, weak or easily breakable, and incapable of proper growth. The treatment of brittle fingernails is difficult and poses a considerable challenge for dermatologists.

Figure 1: The anatomy of the fingernail

Several topical and systemic therapies have been tried. In recent years, dietary supplements, nail moisturisers and nail strengtheners have been used, to name a few, but there is no evidence-based data to prove that these measures are effective.

Now, new science in the field of beauty-from-within applications has investigated the effects of collagen peptide supplementation on the appearance, strength and growth of fingernails. The results give hope to people affected by brittle nail syndrome and seem to confirm the stimulatory effects of specific Bioactive Collagen Peptides (VERISOL) on epidermal and dermal metabolism.

Figure 2: Nail roughness, raggedness and peeling

A natural solution

Collagen has been used as an effective ingredient in beauty products for many, many years. Around the world, it is among the most trusted active ingredients for women who prioritise their personal looks and outer appearance — and it’s completely natural. Collagen is successfully used in a variety of topical beauty and personal care products, including face creams and body lotions, shampoo and bath preparations, and many more.

However, studies have shown that the greatest efficacy cannot be achieved from the outside. Instead, beauty-from-within applications based on collagen peptides are state-of-the-art when it comes to achieving the best visible results and delivering long-term improvements in skin health.

Collagen peptides are short-chain protein building blocks derived from enzymatic hydrolysis of native collagen. During this process, the collagen is cut to obtain a specific bioactive peptide profile. A series of preclinical and clinical studies have shown that oral supplementation with VERISOL collagen peptides leads to longer-term improvements in skin health.

With their special amino acid composition and peptide profile, these specific collagen peptides influence the skin’s collagen metabolism directly from the inside. In a completely natural way, they can slow down the skin’s ageing process, significantly improve its elasticity, structure and appearance, and help to strengthen the skin’s connective tissue.

First clinical proof

Although nail assessments were not the objective of these previous studies, an improvement in nail quality among the study participants was noticed as a positive side-effect. Additionally, there is a longstanding belief among consumers that the ingestion of collagen peptides is good for nails.

However, there has not been any scientific evidence that collagen peptides are effective for this purpose. Now, for the first time, a clinical trial has investigated the efficacy of a specific dosage (2.5g/day) of VERISOL on nail growth and brittle nail syndrome.

In this open, single-centre clinical trial, a total of 25 healthy women received a daily dose of 2.5g of GELITA’s VERISOL collagen peptides for 6 months, followed by a 4 week observation period.

Participants were aged between 18 and 50 with a mean age of 39. All of them displayed at least one sign of brittle nails, be it lamellar peeling, edge irregularities or nail roughness. Four weeks ahead of the treatment phase, all patients were clinically evaluated at a screening visit. Photographs were taken and markings on the nails were made for subsequent growth measurements.

Visible results

To evaluate the impact of VERISOL on the symptoms of brittle nail syndrome — as well as the frequency of cracked or chipped nails and nail growth — patients were assessed immediately before starting treatment, after 12 weeks, after 24 weeks and then 4 weeks after the last intake (washout phase).

With regard to nail growth, intake of VERISOL led to clear improvements after 12 weeks of treatment: daily collagen peptide supplementation promoted an increase of 10% nail growth. This increased to 12% after 24 weeks, and to 15% 4 weeks after the last intake.

The frequency of cracked or chipped nails also decreased significantly. Before starting treatment, the participants’ frequency of broken nails was 10 times per month on average. This decreased to 6 times after 24 weeks of treatment, representing a reduction of 42%, which continued during the washout phase.

Regarding typical brittle nail syndrome symptoms such as nail peeling, edge irregularities and nail roughness, the number of women displaying “severe” or “moderate” nail peeling halved after 12 weeks of treatment, whereas those with a “slight” score doubled.

Participants with “severe” longitudinal splitting of the free edge reduced from 4% to 0% after 24 weeks of treatment with VERISOL, and the “slight” scores increased from 17% to 38%. No clinically relevant changes were observed before and after treatment with collagen peptides for nail roughness.

Of the 24 participants analysed, 13 participants (54%) showed “fair” improvement at week 12. At week 24, 64% achieved notably global improvement (excellent/good/fair). After the washout phase, 21 participants (88%) showed excellent/good/fair improvement.

At the end of the study, the majority of participants (80%) agreed that the use of VERISOL had improved their nails’ appearance and were totally satisfied or satisfied with the performance of the treatment. The participants were also asked to rate the overall improvement of their nails from 0 to 10, and almost half of the patients (46%) rated this between 9 and 10. Moreover, 75% of patients perceived their nails to be stronger, and 71% felt that their nails were growing faster and longer.

A direct effect

Previous skin health studies with VERISOL collagen peptides have shown that when ingested orally, they stimulate fibroblast cells in the dermal layer of the skin to increase overall extracellular matrix formation. By doing so, they influence the skin’s collagen metabolism from the inside, resulting in fewer wrinkles, improved skin elasticity and a younger appearance.

Now, having demonstrated that the improvement of brittle nail syndrome was even more pronounced after the 4-week washout phase, this study suggests a similar mechanism.

Hence, the positive effects of VERISOL treatment are likely to be derived from the direct effect of these Bioactive Collagen Peptides on the nail matrix and nail bed. Additionally, the researchers concluded that the improvements in nail strength demonstrated in this trial may be a result of the increased water-binding capacity of brittle nails promoted by VERISOL treatment.

From cosmetics to food: boundless potential

VERISOL is highly soluble and almost neutral in taste. Thus, it can easily be incorporated into various types of liquid and solid functional food applications or nutricosmetics without compromising the sensory profile.

Potential applications range from collagen water and concentrated ready-to-drink liquid shots to tablets, capsules and flavoured powder mixes. Even luxury foodstuffs such as coffee and chocolate can be enriched with natural collagen peptides, allowing for beauty care with a touch of great-tasting indulgence.

As VERISOL peptides are hydrolysed to a specific short peptide length, they are easily digestible as well as highly bioavailable. Moreover, they are free from fat, cholesterol, carbohydrates and gluten, and are ideal for use in non-allergenic foods. Being free from E-numbers, VERISOL is perfect for the development of clean label products too.