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Can Vitamin Deficiencies Cause Dry Lips? Health and Fitness Informatics


Can Vitamin Deficiencies Cause Dry Lips?


Cheilitis or dry lips are when your lips get inflamed, irritated, or have changed. It occurs due to inflammation, allergies, or irritation. Your lips might feel dry, cracked, or swollen, and they may even hurt or itch. Sometimes, you might notice changes in the way your lips look. With more serious inflammation, your lips might peel, get scaly, or develop cracks.

There are several factors that cause dry lips such as vitamin deficiency, dehydration, dry weather, dehydration, and many more.

Certain medication may also cause dry chapped lips.

Prompt medical assistance is required if your lips persistently dried or bleeding and not healing with remedies or lip balm.

This article will provide you with all facts regarding

  • Causes
  • Treatment options
  • Vitamin deficiencies
  • Signs of vitamin deficiencies
  • Suggested daily vitamin intake
  • Sources of vitamins
  • Risk factors 

What causes nutrient deficiencies in my body?

Dry lips also known as Cheilitis may develop due to a deficiency of water, minerals, and vitamins, such as be deficient in zinc, micronutrients, B vitamins, or iron. However, numerous factors may cause, you to become deficient.

Minerals and vitamins are present in a variety of foods. Generally, a well-balanced diet will provide all the micronutrients your body requires. However, particular health conditions, diet, and life stages can make nurturing your body properly more tricky.

Here are some examples by which you can develop nutrient deficiencies such as:

  • Food allergies
  • Pregnancy
  • Chronic gastrointestinal illnesses, such as inflammatory bowel disease, and celiac disease
  • Impaired absorption and digestion of nutrients from foods
  • Low food intake (due to food scarcity or an eating disorder)

Nutrient deficiencies that cause dry lips:

You can’t identify all nutrient deficiencies just by looking at yourself. However, lacking certain minerals or vitamins might result in dry lips or other physical signs. 

One of the signs of chapped lips due to a deficiency of zinc, iron, or B vitamin. Dehydration may also lead your lips to look and feel dry.


Zinc is a vital mineral which is crucial for good health.  It can cause chapped lips, irritation, inflammation, and irritation on your mouth sides.

Zinc deficiency during growth periods leads to growth failure. The organs most affected clinically by zinc deficiency are the epidermal, central nervous, gastrointestinal, immune, reproductive, and skeletal systems. Clinical diagnosis of marginal Zn deficiency in humans remains problematic1.

Other symptoms of zinc deficiency:

  • Decreased immunity
  • Skin ulcers
  • Hair loss
  • Diarrhea

Zinc deficiency diagnosis:

Diagnosis of Zn deficiency in humans remains problematic. To date, blood plasma/serum zinc concentration, dietary intake, and stunting prevalence are the best-known indicators of zinc deficiency.

Zinc sources:

There are several sources of zinc including1 

1.Certain foods


  • Animal-based such as seafood, poultry, and meat

2. Supplements:

  • Zinc sulfate
  • Zinc acetate
  • Zinc gluconate

3. Fortified foods:

Some foods such as certain dairy products, and breakfast cereals, are fortified with zinc to boost their nutritional content.

However, fortification is the procedure of by design adding essential nutrients to foods during manufacturing or processing to improve their nutritional quality.

4. Soil

Plants absorb zinc from the soil, so its presence in the soil affects its concentration in plant-based foods.

5. Zinc Oxide

This compound is used in certain products like sunscreen, creams, and ointments. While not a dietary source, it can be absorbed through the skin.

How much zinc is required?

Suggested physiological requirements for zinc by age are

  • 6-12 months   0.84mg/ day
  • 1-3 years          0.83mg/day
  • 3-6 years         0.97 mg/day
  • 10-12 years     1.40 mg/day
  • 15-18 years M 1.97 mg/day
  • 15-18 years    F  1.54 mg/day
  • Pregnancy    2.27  mg/day

2. Iron:

Anemia or iron deficiency can lead to angular cheilitis (dryness and inflation on one or both sides of the mouth).

Iron is the most profuse essential trace element in your body and it is vital for the growth and cellultipilication. Around 3–5 g of iron is stored in the body with the mainstream being in blood and the rest in bone marrow, muscles, and liver, in the form of heme. About 1–2 mg of iron is lost every day, through minor blood losses, enteric desquamation, and skin. Intestinal absorption balances this loss2 .

Functions of iron in the body:

Iron is crucial for numerous body processes, such as3

Symptoms of iron deficiency:

Iron deficiency is the most widespread single nutrient deficiency and is the global most common cause of anemia. Here are the symptoms of anemia4

  • Fatigue
  • Pale or yellowish skin
  • Difficulty in regulating temperature
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Chest pain
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Brittle nails
  • Craving for the non-nutritive substances
  • Shortness of breath
  • Decreased cognitive performance
  • Headaches

Daily intake requirements:

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommends following daily intake that are slightly depending on the source of iron:

  • 7-12 months:  11 mg /day
  • 1-3 years:  7 mg /day
  • 4-8 years:   10 mg /day
  • 9-13 years: 8 mg /day
  • 9-13 years: 8 mg /day
  • Boys 14-18 years: 11 mg/day
  • Girls 14-18 years: 15 mg per day
  • Adults male: 8mg/day
  • Adult female: 18mg/day
  • Pregnant woman: 27 mg/day

3. B vitamins:

Dry or chapped lips are common signs of B vitamin deficiencies, particularly, vitamin B2 (riboflavin), B9 (folate), B12, and B65,6.

Functions of B vitamin:

The B vitamins are a group of water-soluble vitamins that are crucial in several functions of the body such 

  • Muscle contraction and nerve functions (B1, B12)
  • Healthy skin and eyes (B12, B3, B7)
  • DNA repair and hormones synthesis (B3, B9, B12)
  • Digestive health (B3)
  • Breakdown of fats and carbohydrates (B5)
  • Amino acid metabolism and the production of dopamine and serotonin (B6)
  • Healthy hair and nails (B7)
  • Prevent neural tube defects in newborns (B9)

Signs of B vitamin deficiency:

Here are the common symptoms of B vitamin deficiency including7

  • Sores on the sides of the mouth
  • Swollen red tongue
  • Depression or mood changes
  • Fatigue
  • Memory problem
  • Weakness
  • Anemia
  • Tingling in hands and feet
  • Poor immune functions
  • Skin rashes
  • Irritability
  • Gastrointestinal disturbance
  • Headaches


Sources of B vitamins:

A variety of foods contain B vitamin including:

  • Meat
  • Fish
  • Dairy product
  • Legumes
  • Seeds
  • Whole grains
  • Leafy greens
  • Nuts

Other causes of chapped lips:

Because the skin on your lips doesn't hold onto water as well as the skin on your cheeks does, your lips frequently feel dry and rough. To help with this, generally, people use lip balm to keep moisture in and prevent water loss8. 

But there are several options to treat chapped lips including taking vitamin supplements or consuming food having certain vitamins that support lips health.

Dry lips look chapped and inflamed, and sometimes bleed and get cracked.

Your lips get dry due to several clinical and environmental factors such as

  • Cold or dry weather
  • Allergies
  • Smoking
  • Sun exposure
  • Dehydration
  • Lip licking and picking
  • Certain medications such as antiviral drugs, tropical, antibiotics, and local anesthetics
  • Excessive intake of vitamin A
  • Certain lip care products or sunscreen
  • Night-time breathing devices such as CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machines to sleep


To treat dry lips you can:

  • Apply lip balm containing sunscreen when going outside
  • Use lip balm throughout the day such as Beewax
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Use a humidifier when at home
  • Use fragrance, non-irritation lip product
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Avoid picking, licking, or biting your lips

If you are sensitive to certain skincare products, you can simply use a mixture of wax and oil to treat dry or chapped lips without any additional special ingredients8.

Why do lips become dry easily?

Lip epithelium is a thin layer called stratum corneum (SC) having incomplete corneocyte formation. Lip lack hair follicles and sweat glands, and they don’t have the lubricating effects of sebum. As a result, the lips can easily become chapped and dry. Extremely damaged and dry lips need intensive treatment, which speeds up healing while receiving moisturizing benefits9.

When to seek medical attention:

If you have persistent dry lips, it’s crucial to see your provider get appropriate treatment, if having these conditions such as

  • Bleeding
  • Swelling
  • Cracking
  • Feel pain in the lips

Can dry lips lead to cancer?

If dry lips occur because of tumors, your lips might look different in color, feel lumpy, or have sores.

Fortunately, most lip problems, even the ones that could turn into cancer, are easier to deal with if caught early. But if you do not mark it early, it can become tricky to treat for both you and your healthcare provider10.


Which vitamin is good for dry lips?

B vitamins like niacin, B6, and niacin, are necessary for sustaining healthy skin, including lips. They assist in moisture retention, and cell regeneration, significant for preventing dryness and promoting lip health.

What vitamin deficiencies cause dry lips?

Your lips may get dry if you are deficient in B vitamins, iron, and zinc. Other factors such as dry and cold weather, certain medication, using night-time breathing devices, and excessive use of vitamin A, may also result in chapped or dry lips.

Can vitamin C cure dry lips?

Vitamin C is effective for lightening the lips. It can keep your lips hydrated by preventing cracking and dryness. Vitamin C works by minimizing the production of melanin. However, melanin is the pigment responsible for the color of your lips and skin.

What can I eat to stop dry lips?

To prevent dry lips, consume vegetables and fruits with high water content

such as oranges, strawberries, celery, and cucumber. These fruits and vegetables

also hold antioxidants which can also help in cell regeneration and cure dry lips.

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