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Chapped Lips and Vitamin Deficiencies

author image Erin Marty
Erin Marty has been writing since 2000 and has accomplished many achievements since, including volunteering as a reading and writing tutor for elementary students in 2004. Marty also has self-published the novel “Free-Roamers: Mourning Grove." Currently, Marty is working on her prequel, “Northern Plains,” to be published in 2012.
Chapped Lips and Vitamin Deficiencies
A close-up of a woman's healthy lips. Photo Credit: Hemera Technologies/ Images

Some vitamins are essential for bones, others for cell growth, and still others, like B-complex vitamins, are supporters of skin. Your lips, which have extremely sensitive skin, depend on vitamins to keep them healthy and prevent them from drying and chapping. Chapped lips cannot only be frustrating and painful, deficiencies of some vitamins may even make them crack. Eating a healthy diet prevents this problem.

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Vitamin B-2

Lack of some vitamins, particularly B vitamins, may cause chapped lips. Vitamin B-2, also called riboflavin, is a B-complex vitamin that is needed for healthy hair, nails and skin, including your lips. Deficiency of vitamin B-2 may result in mouth or lip sores, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Good sources of riboflavin include dairy products, eggs, green leafy vegetables, beans, nuts and lean meats. Adults eating a 2,000-calorie diet and children over four years old require 1.7 milligrams of riboflavin, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Vitamin B-3

Niacin, or vitamin B-3, is another B-complex vitamin needed for healthy skin. Insufficient dietary niacin, may result in dry, cracked lips, dermatitis and red, swollen tongue and mouth, according to the National Resource Center on Nutrition, Physical Activity and Aging. They recommend consuming 13 to 20 milligrams of niacin per day. To get enough niacin in your diet, eat foods such as tuna, halibut, beef, pork, poultry, cereal grains, been, green leafy vegetables and milk.


Vitamin B-6 deficiency is also related to skin disorders, dermatitis and cracks at the corners of the mouth. To get enough B-6, also called pyridoxine, in your diet, Colorado State University recommends adult men and women up to age 50 should consume 1.3 milligrams per day. Food sources of B-6 include meats, whole grains, legumes and green leafy vegetables.


The National Resource Center on Nutrition, Physical Activity and Aging lists rough, dry skin, cracked lips and tongue among the signs of zinc deficiency. Your diet should provide 10 to 25 milligrams of zinc each day. Consuming 100 milligrams of zinc per day can be toxic. Foods containing zinc include whole grains, beef, pork, turkey, beans, nuts, ricotta, Swiss and Gouda cheese.

Vitamin A

This vitamin is linked to dry skin and lips when consumed in excess. Vitamin A toxicity can be fatal. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, most people get enough vitamin A from their diets. There are two sources of vitamin A; retinoids, which comes from animal foods and carotenoids, which comes from plants. However, taking supplements increases the risk of toxicity. The UMMC lists 10,000 international units as the upper safe limit for vitamin A . Foods high in vitamin A include dark-green leafy vegetables and yellow-orange fruits and vegetables, beef, calf and poultry liver, eggs and dairy products.

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