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9 Vitamin Deficiencies That Show Up On Your Skin

Vitamin Deficiencies That Show On Your Skin

Most vitamin deficiencies also show up on the skin. While a lack of vitamin A can cause scaly, dry skin, lack of B6 leads to skin ulcers, and lack of B7 can cause eczema. Vitamin B12 deficiency can also cause vitiligo. Both C and E are antioxidants and their deficiency causes premature skin aging, wrinkles, and dryness. Lack of D causes psoriasis.

A good skincare routine goes a long way in keeping your skin healthy. And this includes nourishing your skin from the inside out. Not having a healthy, balanced diet can lead to certain vitamin deficiencies which will, in turn, impact your skin. Here are a few skin-deep signs of vitamin deficiencies that you should watch out for.

1. Skin Dryness – Vitamin A Deficiency

You may use retinol-based prescription skin creams to relieve the dryness. But the deficiency needs to be addressed with adequate dietary vitamin A.

Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that helps in the formation and maintenance of healthy skin as well as teeth, skeletal tissue, mucous membranes, and soft tissue. If you don’t get enough of this vitamin, it can cause scaly, dry skin and dry lips.1

RDA (recommended daily allowance): 900 mcg/d for adult men and 700 mcg/d for adult women

Sources Of Vitamin A

  • Animal sources such as eggs, meat, fortified milk, cheese, cream, liver, kidney, cod, and halibut fish oil contain preformed vitamin A, a component of vitamin A. Remember to have organ meat sparingly. A high intake of preformed vitamin A can be harmful.
  • Vitamin A can also be formed by your body from carotenoids, which are colored pigments with antioxidant properties found in fruits and vegetables. Try spinach, collards, kale, and other leafy green vegetables. Or stock up on beta-carotene-rich fruits and vegetables like apricots, peaches, squash, carrots, or sweet potato.2 Here’s a look at the top food sources of vitamin A.

2. Skin Rashes – Vitamin B2 Deficiency

Riboflavin is involved in the production of energy from food and plays a part in keeping your skin and vision healthy. A deficiency of this vitamin can cause redness and cracks in the corner of your mouth and your tongue as well as a skin rash. You may also experience inflamed eyelids, hair loss, and reddening of your cornea.3

RDA: 1.3 mg for men and 1.1 mg for women4

Sources Of Vitamin B2 Or Riboflavin

  • Milk, cottage cheese, yogurt, wholegrain cereals, leafy green vegetables, egg whites, meat, kidney, and liver can all help you get in your daily quota.

3. Eczema – Vitamin B3 Deficiency

Niacin is vital as it’s required for the body to convert fat, protein, and carbohydrates into energy. It also helps keep your skin healthy and supports the digestive and nervous systems. Niacin deficiency causes a condition known as pellagra which is characterized mainly by the symptoms of dermatitis (eczema), dementia, and diarrhea. This condition leads to scaly sores, redness, and itchiness on your skin and can cause your tongue to swell up. It’s important to increase levels of niacin if you have pellagra – the condition can be fatal if left untreated.

RDA: 16 mg/d for men and 14 mm/d for women5

Sources Of B3 Or Niacin

  • Fish, meats, poultry, eggs, milk, wholegrain cereals, mushrooms, and nuts contain vitamin B3.6

4. Skin Ulcers – Vitamin B6 Deficiency

Vitamin B6 deficiency is usually found in people deficient in B12 and folate. Vegetarians also run a risk of mild deficiency.

Vitamin B6 is another nutrient that’s important for the health of your skin. If you don’t get enough of this vitamin, you might experience symptoms like rashes that itch, flaking skin on your lips, and ulcers in the corner of your mouth.7 It may also cause glossitis of the tongue where the tongue loses its bumpy papillae and becomes smooth and inflamed.8

RDA: 1.3 mg/d for adults aged 19–50 years; 1.7 mg/d for men above 51 years and 1.5 mg/d for women above 51

Sources Of Vitamin B6

  • Fish, eggs, and poultry are rich in vitamin B6 as are starchy vegetables like potatoes.9

5. Scaly Dermatitis – Vitamin B7 (Biotin) Deficiency

Biotin plays an important role in the metabolism of energy, glycogen synthesis, fat synthesis, and amino acid metabolism. It’s rare to be deficient in this vitamin since it’s widely found in foods. However, certain habits like the consumption of raw egg whites, which contain a protein that inhibits the absorption of biotin, may lead to a deficiency. Symptoms of vitamin B7 deficiency can include pale skin, scaly dermatitis, and dry skin as well as hair loss, nausea, loss of appetite, weakness, and muscle pain.

RDA: 30 mcg/d for adults10

Sources Of Vitamin B7

6. Yellow Skin And Vitiligo – Vitamin B12 Deficiency

Vitamin B12 helps keep your blood and nerve cells healthy and also plays a role in the making of your genetic material or DNA.

Vegetarians and vegans may be particularly prone to vitamin B12 deficiency because it is found only in animal food sources.

A deficiency can cause symptoms like fatigue, vision loss, loss of appetite, and shortness of breath. People who lack vitamin B12 can also develop pernicious anemia, a condition where the body cannot absorb B12 from foods and is unable to make a sufficient quantity of healthy red blood cells. This condition is associated with vitiligo, a pigmentation disorder which causes white patches to develop on your skin.12

Studies show that a combination of sun exposure and oral supplementation with folic acid and vitamin B12 can be helpful in treating vitiligo.13

B12 deficiency may also give a yellow tinge to your skin and even the white portion of your eye as in its absence, red blood cells become fragile and break down into bile. The lack of functional red blood cells and rise in bile levels manifest on the skin as paleness and yellowness. Since the lack of folate or vitamin B9 also leads to the production of abnormal red blood cells, paleness can be caused by a folate deficiency as well.

RDA: 2.4 mcg for adults14

Sources Of Vitamin B12

  • Meat, liver, cheese, milk, and eggs are good sources of vitamin B12. But do keep in mind that if you have pernicious anemia, you might require shots or pills of vitamin B12 to treat it.15
  • Vegan food sources of B12 include fortified foods and white button mushrooms.

7. Scurvy – Vitamin C Deficiency

Vitamin C is important for the health of your skin as it has antioxidant properties. It also plays a critical part in the synthesis of collagen, the protein that gives structure and support to your skin. Studies have found that having higher amounts of vitamin C provide protection from sun damage and that a deficiency can lead to scaly, dry, and rough skin.16

Vitamin C deficiency can also cause scurvy, a condition where your body is not able to adequately replace collagen. This leads to symptoms like red dots on your skin, pain in your muscles and joints, and swelling and bleeding of your gums.17

RDA: 90 mg/d for men and 75 mg/d for women18

Sources Of Vitamin C

  • Many fruits and vegetables are rich sources of vitamin C. Include fruits like grapefruits, oranges, mangoes, and papayas and vegetables like cauliflowers, tomatoes, cabbages, spinach, and red and green peppers in your diet.

8. Psoriasis – Vitamin D Deficiency

While it’s not necessarily a skin condition, easy bruising may indicate a vitamin K deficiency.

You might already know that low levels of vitamin D can affect your bone health and cause osteoporosis. But did you know that vitamin D deficiency could be a contributory factor in psoriasis? In fact, it has been found that the topical application of vitamin D preparations on the patches of flaky, irritated skin that characterize this skin disorder can improve the condition.19 Taking dietary vitamin D also helps.

RDA: 15 mcg/d for adults20

Sources Of Vitamin D

  • Your skin can make vitamin D when it’s exposed to sunlight. However, overexposure to the sun’s ray can also cause your skin to age and lead to skin cancer.
  • Egg yolks, liver, and saltwater fish provide this vitamin. Foods like milk and cereals are often fortified with it.

9. Premature Aging – Vitamin E Deficiency

Vitamin E, a fat-soluble vitamin, is an important antioxidant which helps fight harmful free radicals. Free radicals are naturally formed in the body when we convert food into energy. Air pollution, sunlight, and smoking also expose us to free radicals. So vitamin E plays an important part in protecting the skin from sun damage which can cause accelerated aging and wrinkling of your skin.

However, do keep in mind that experts feel that vitamin E alone may not provide sufficient protection to your skin. You may also need vitamin C to effectively increase the photoprotection of skin through the diet.21

RDA: 15 mg/d for adults22

Sources Of Vitamin E

  • You can get vitamin E from sunflower oil, safflower oil, and wheat germ oil as well as nuts like almonds, hazelnuts, and peanuts.
  • Green vegetable like broccoli and spinach can also give you some vitamin E.

Apart from ensuring that you get the recommended amount of all of the above vitamins, do consult a professional if you experience any out of the ordinary changes in your skin.

References   [ + ]

1. Vitamin A. National Institutes of Health.
2. Vitamin A deficiency. DermNet New Zealand.
3, 6, 11, 15. Vitamin B. Department of Health & Human Services.
4. Riboflavin. National Institutes of Health.
5. Niacin. National Institutes of Health.
7. Leklem JE. Vitamin B6. In: Machlin L, ed. Handbook of Vitamins. New York: Marcel Decker Inc; 1991:341-378.
8. Vitamin B6. National Institutes of Health.
9. Vitamin B6. National Institutes of Health.
10. Biotin. National Institutes of Health.
12. Vitiligo. National Institutes of Health.
13. Juhlin, Lennart, and Mats J. Olsson. ” of vitiligo after oral treatment with vitamin B12 and folic acid and the importance of sun exposure.” ACTA DERMATOVENEREOLOGICA-STOCKHOLM- 77 (1997): 460-462.
14. Vitamin B12. National Institutes of Health.
16. Vitamin C and Skin Health. Linus Pauling Institute.
17. Scurvy. National Health Service.
18. Vitamin C. National Institutes of Health.
19. Psoriasis and vitamin D deficiency. Harvard Health Publications.
20. Vitamin D. National Institutes of Health.
21. Vitamin E and Skin Health. Linus Pauling Institute
22. Vitamin E. National Institutes of Health.

Disclaimer: The content is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional.