The skin, the largest organ, helps protect organs from toxins and disease. Dry skin may result from numerous factors, including poor hygiene, heredity and sun exposure. In addition to healthy lifestyle habits, such as proper hygiene and avoiding smoking, various nutrients can support skin health and reduce skin dryness. Since dietary supplements may cause adverse side effects, many foods offer optimum nutrient sources. Seek doctor's guidance before use of dietary supplements.
Gamma-linolenic acids, or GLAs, are essential fatty acids that help the body produce prostaglandins--hormone-like substances that support numerous body functions. According to the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State Uniersity, , GLAs are good nutrients for supple skin. GLAs can be reaped from evening primrose oil, borage oil and black currant oil.
Fish oil contains omega-3 fatty acids--healthy fats known to reduce inflammation and support cardiovascular health and brain function. Fish oil intake may also help alleviate dry skin. Sufficient intake of omega-3 fatty acids can be acquired by eating fatty fish, such as wild salmon, albacore tuna, herring or sardines, at least twice weekly, or from fish oil dietary supplements. People who do not consume fish can reap similar benefits from ground flaxseed, flaxseed oil, walnuts, walnut oil and canola oil. Omega-3 fatty acids supplements made from plant-based sources are also available.
Vitamin B6 is a water-soluble nutrient that supports enzyme production, metabolism and transport of oxygen throughout the body. Sufficient vitamin B6 intake also helps prevent skin conditions, including those that cause dry cracks around the mouth, according to the American Skin Association. Valuable food sources of vitamin B6 include potatoes with skin, bananas, garbanzo beans, chicken breast, oatmeal, pork oil, roast beef, sunflower seeds, sunflower oil, vitamin-fortified cereals and rainbow trout. Dietary supplements are available for people with vitamin B6 deficiency, which is rare in the United States.
The American Skin Association lists other vitamins that may help improve skin. These vitamins include vitamin A, riboflavin, vitamin C and vitamin D. A healthy diet that includes fruits and vegetables such as carrots, oranges and leafy green vegetables will increase your intake of these nutrients.