Dry Mouth and Vitamin Deficiency

Although you may not realize it, the combination of dry mouth and vitamin deficiency occur fairly often. A lack of protein and several different minerals and vitamins can cause dry mouth, peeling, sore tongue and other oral side effects. It's best to resolve such deficiencies by incorporating more nutrient-rich foods into your diet, but you can also take supplements if necessary.

Dry mouth could indicated vitamin deficiency.
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Read more: How Vegans Can Get All Their Nutrients (Without Taking Supplements)

Dry Mouth and Vitamin Deficiency

Dry mouth can have many causes. One of the main reasons is a malfunction in your salivary glands. This essentially means that you don't have enough saliva in your mouth or are producing saliva of poor quality. While this may not sound like a big deal, saliva is a major factor in keeping your mouth healthy and free of disease. Dry mouth and vitamin deficiency can increase your risk of cavities and oral diseases and complications.

Salivary glands can malfunction because of malnutrition or vitamin deficiency. These glands are particularly likely to run into trouble if you're deficient in protein, vitamin A or iron. The Food and Drug Administration recommends that most people consume 18 milligrams of iron and 5,000 international units of vitamin A on a daily basis. The daily value (DV) for protein is 50 grams.

While zinc doesn't affect the salivary glands in the same way that protein, vitamin A and iron do, it can influence the amount of saliva that is produced in your mouth, resulting in dry mouth. It can also affect the composition of the saliva that you produce, meaning that you may be less protected from cavities and more likely to develop oral infections or diseases.

Read more: 11 Nutrients Americans Aren't Getting Enough Of

Dry Tongue and Vitamin Deficiency

Your mouth is meant to be coated in saliva at all times, so dry mouth and vitamin deficiency tend to cause adverse tongue symptoms. Dry mouth and tongue symptoms may also occur at the same time for another reason — a lack of B vitamins. According to an August 2017 study in the Journal of the Academy of General Dentistry, B-complex vitamins play overlapping roles in your health. Because they tend to be found in the same types of foods, if you're deficient in one B vitamin, you're often deficient in others from the family.

Deficient levels of vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B3 (niacin), vitamin B6 and iron are all known to cause tongue-related side effects. A lack of vitamins B2 and B3 are most likely to cause a swollen tongue, while low vitamin B6 can cause a sore or burning tongue. Iron typically causes a red, painful tongue accompanied by a burning sensation. In most cases, vitamin deficiency symptoms related to the tongue are accompanied by inflammation (known as glossitis) and peeling.

Other Deficiency-Related Side Effects

Unfortunately, dry mouth and dry, sore tongues aren't the only oral side effects caused by vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Vitamin A, B-complex vitamins and iron can also affect your lips, gums, periodontal fibers and ability to swallow. Some side effects, like bad breath caused by a lack of vitamin B12, are fairly mild. However, others can be serious and affect your long-term health.

Lack of vitamin A can affect your teeth formation, as well as the enamel that coats them. Low iron can affect your ability to swallow and may cause the corners of your mouth to crack, a condition known as angular cheilitis. Lack of certain B-complex vitamins (specifically vitamins B1, B2, B3 and B12) can also cause this problem. Vitamin B1 deficiency also causes cracked lips, while a deficiency in vitamin B2, vitamin B3 or vitamin B12 can cause ulcers and gingivitis.

Insufficient amounts of vitamins B6 and B12 can cause the most severe deficiency-related oral side effects. Lack of vitamin B6 can result in periodontal disease, while low vitamin B12 can cause detachment of the periodontal fibers in your mouth and the eventual loss of teeth.

Read more: 10 Weird Signs You're Not Getting Enough Nutrients

Healthy Foods Help Resolve Deficiencies

If you're experiencing dry tongue, dry mouth or any other vitamin deficiency symptoms, you may want to make sure you're getting enough nutrients in your daily diet. According to Harvard Health Publishing, you need to obtain nearly 30 different vitamins and minerals from the foods you eat, because your body isn't able to produce these nutrients in sufficient amounts. Although you can take oral or injectable supplements, it's healthier to consume these essential vitamins and minerals from the foods you eat.

If you're having oral health issues caused by vitamin deficiency, the vitamins and minerals you particularly need to incorporate are protein, vitamin A, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin B3, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, iron and zinc. Many foods, like dairy products and legumes, contain several of these nutrients.

Protein can be found in a wide variety of plant-based and animal products, including foods like:

  • Dairy products
  • Eggs
  • Legumes
  • Meat products
  • Nuts
  • Seitan
  • Seafood
  • Tofu

Vitamin A can be found in foods that include:

  • Dairy products
  • Eggs
  • Fortified cereals
  • Fruits like cantaloupe and pumpkin
  • Vegetables like spinach, broccoli, carrots and sweet potatoes

Thiamin (vitamin B1) can be found in:

  • Enriched grains and whole grains
  • Legumes
  • Nuts
  • Meat products, especially pork

Riboflavin (vitamin B2) can be found in:

  • Eggs
  • Enriched grains
  • Meat products
  • Milk products
  • Seafood
  • Spinach

Niacin (vitamin B3) can be found in:

  • Beans
  • Enriched grains and whole grains
  • Meat products
  • Nuts
  • Seafood

Vitamin B6 can be found in:

  • Fruits
  • Legumes
  • Potatoes
  • Fish like salmon and tuna

Vitamin B12 can be found in:

  • Dairy products
  • Eggs
  • Fortified cereals
  • Meat products
  • Seafood
  • Seaweed products that include nori and laver. However, not all seaweed contains this nutrient.

Iron can be found in:

  • Dark green vegetables
  • Legumes
  • Meat products
  • Seafood
  • Whole grains and enriched grains

Zinc can be found in:

  • Fortified cereals
  • Dairy products
  • Legumes
  • Meat products
  • Nuts
  • Seafood
  • Whole grains

Many other foods contain these nutrients too. The Mayo Clinic considers any food to be rich in nutrients as long as a serving contains 20 percent or more of your daily value for that vitamin or mineral.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
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