Chapped lips, also known as cheilitis, can occur when your lips are depleted of moisture. Symptoms of chapped lips include dry, red, sore and cracked lips that split and bleed when you smile, talk, laugh or eat. The exact cause varies, but cigarette smoke, sun and wind exposure, dry air, cold weather, excessive lip licking, medications, health conditions, dehydration, lip inflammation and nutritional deficiencies appear to play a role in its development. A variety of vitamins and minerals can protect your lips from damage, alleviate chapped lips and keep your lips healthy and moist.
Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that strengthens your immune system and protects your lips from toxins, viruses, infections, pollutants and diseases that can dry your lips out, according to Lambert Surhone, Mariam Tennoe, Susan Henssonow, authors of the book “Vitamin A.” The authors explain that vitamin A also aids in the production of soft tissues, promotes skin cell growth and assists in the production of sebum, natural oils produced by your sebaceous glands that prevent your lips from drying. The recommended daily dosage for vitamin A is 900 mcg for men and 700 mcg for women. Foods rich in vitamin A include fortified cereals, milk, broccoli, kale, pumpkin, squash, eggs, collard greens, sweet potatoes, carrots and mangoes.
Vitamin B-3, also known as niacin, is a water-soluble vitamin that prevents chapped lips by helping them retain their moisture. Vitamin B-3 also eases pain associated with dry and cracked lips, transports nutrient, blood and oxygen to your lips, repairs damaged lips and aids in the healing process, according to Jorg Kastner, author of the book “Chinese Nutrition Therapy: Dietetics in Traditional Chinese Medicine.” The recommended daily dosage for vitamin B-3 is 16 mg for men and 14 mg for women. Foods rich in vitamin B-3 include light meat chicken, enriched pasta, lentils, lima beans, coffee, whole wheat bread, salmon, beef and peanuts.
Vitamin B-12, also known as cobalamin, is a water-soluble vitamin that repairs damaged lips, relieves dry and cracked lips, aids in the healing process, moisturizes your lips and lowers your risk of anemia, which can prevent your lips from healing properly, explains Deborah Tkac, author of the book “The Doctor's Book of Home Remedies: Thousands of Tips and Techniques Anyone Can Use to Heal Everyday Health Problems.” The recommended daily dosage for vitamin B-12 is 2.4 mcg for adults. Foods rich in vitamin A include clams, beef, Brie cheese, eggs, skim milk, roasted turkey, roasted chicken and salmon.
Zinc is a mineral that improves immune system function and protects your lips from environmental elements that can chap your lips, according to Phyllis Balch, author of the book “Prescription for Nutritional Healing: A Practical A-to-Z Reference to Drug-Free Remedies Using Vitamins, Minerals, Herbs and Food Supplements.” Balch explains that zinc also heals lip cracks, aids in cellular growth and hydrates dry lips. The recommended dosage for zinc is 11 mg for men and 8 mg for women. Foods rich in zinc include oysters, crab, beef, pork, dark meat chicken, dark meat turkey, cheddar cheese, milk, almonds, peanuts, baked beans, chickpeas and fruit yogurt. If your lips dry out at night, applying zinc oxide ointment to them before bed can protect them from overnight dryness.
- “Chinese Nutrition Therapy: Dietetics in Traditional Chinese Medicine”; Jorg Kastner; 2004
- “The Doctor's Book of Home Remedies: Thousands of Tips and Techniques Anyone Can Use to Heal Everyday Health Problems”; Deborah Tkac; 1990
- “Dermatologic Therapeutics”; Francisco A. Kerdel, Paolo Romanelli and Jennifer T. Trent; 2005
- “Prescription for Nutritional Healing: A Practical A-to-Z Reference to Drug-Free Remedies Using Vitamins, Minerals, Herbs and Food Supplements”; Phyllis A. Balch; 2010
- “Vitamin A”; Lambert M. Surhone, Mariam T. Tennoe, Susan F. Henssonow; 2010