Ribbed nails: result of protein deficiency or stomach acid deficiency?


In my perpetual search for health facts on the internet, there were countless websites that said that ribbed nails indicate a protein deficiency. Fun fact and a valuable sign that the intake of protein may increase. But what was my surprise? I spoke to a number of people who, despite their huge protein intake (bodybuilders), had ribbed nails. In addition, these same guys had one-piece bloated bellies (something that these vain men of course do not find).

I could not reconcile that and I went to investigate, because what was the cause of those ridged nails? I went to research and went looking in my research database. What is my conclusion? First some facts about proteins.

What are proteins and what are the functions in the body?

Proteins are composed of long chains of amino acids, which are the essential elements for the development, growth and maintenance of the body. Amino acids are found in various food sources, particularly in animal products such as eggs, dairy, fish and meat. In addition, the most important plant sources are legumes, nuts and seeds.

Our muscles, organs and tissues are all made up of protein structures. These building materials fulfill countless functions such as muscle building and repair, wound healing, keeping the blood sugar level under control, they ensure signal transfer and they also make bacteria harmless.

How much protein do you need daily?

Everyone has a different need. The amount of protein you eat daily depends on your activity and your weight. People who do not or hardly exercise are advised to eat 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight every day.

People who exercise regularly or have fairly intensive physical work have a higher need: about 1.2 to 1.8 grams per kilogram of body weight. Strength athletes or people with very heavy work have the highest protein requirement: about 2.6 to 3.3 grams per kilogram of body weight. This high requirement is caused by the desired muscle growth and to prevent the breakdown of muscle tissue.

What are other symptoms of a protein deficiency?

Bad mood and fatigue

Since all signal substances in our body consist of amino acids, a protein deficiency usually means that the synthesis of neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin does not proceed optimally. A bad mood, depression and poor motivation are soon lurking.


Brainfog is the English name for a not very clear mind. Confusion, fatigue and concentration problems are the result of a chemical imbalance in the brain, often due to a lack in neurotransmitter management. Dopamine, adrenaline, norepinephrine and serotonin are all chemicals in the brain that are needed to maintain focus.

High cholesterol

A lack of protein in the body is often compensated with carbohydrate-rich and poor fatty foods (the typical Western diet). As a result, blood sugar levels fly in all directions and we constantly need sweets. The result is inflammation, hormonal imbalances and together they contribute to higher LDL cholesterol levels.

Gastrointestinal complaints

Enzymes are the substances in our body that break down nutrients into substances usable for the body. For example, complex carbohydrates are broken down into glucose usable for the body, proteins are broken down into amino acids, et cetera. You guessed it: enzymes themselves are also made up of amino acids and a protein deficiency can quickly lead to a reduced ability to digest nutrients.

If I have to explain all the functions of proteins, you probably fell asleep before the end of this article. So let me explain why I think that ribbed nails have a different cause than a protein deficiency.

Ribbed nails: protein deficiency or stomach acid deficiency?

In contrast to what many people assume, gastric acid performs a very important function in our body. In particular, people who use antacids have persuaded their physician that stomach acid is ‘only’ and that they have to take proton pump inhibitors (gastric acid inhibitors). We simply need stomach acid to digest food. Almost one on one you can even say: stomach acid deficiency is nutrient deficiency.

Heartburn plays a very important role in the digestion of proteins. The stomach acid breaks down the proteins into amino acids, so they can prevent the above symptoms of a protein deficiency.

It is easy to identify a stomach acid deficiency in yourself: many farmers, flatulence, bloating, stinking farts and horribly stinking stools are all symptoms of little stomach acid. These complaints are due to the badly digested proteins that ferment in the intestine and form gases.

Since many people have a stomach acid deficiency, this automatically leads to a withdrawal problem of proteins. For that reason I have a strong suspicion that ribbed nails indeed have to do with a protein deficiency, but that shortage is the result of a withdrawal problem.

How do you restore the production of stomach acid in a natural way?

The use of gastric acid inhibitors is again typically an example of how it does NOT work! It is a typical case of symptom management in which I personally believe that the doctor deceives the patient, as the causes are not addressed. In addition, the side effects, including the reduced ability to digest proteins, are more serious than the original symptoms. In the article Burning heartburn and acid regurgitation: this is how you solve them without medication! I explain to you how you can reduce stomach acid symptoms in a natural way or even completely resolve them. In addition, a Betaine HCL supplement can be very helpful, but only use it under the watchful eye of a qualified physician.

I have advised several people to get their stomach acid production going again by eating differently and using apple cider vinegar. The bloating felt less or disappeared and the ridges in the nails became less. So: ribbed nails are not so much the result of a protein deficiency, but of the ability to digest proteins.


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