Can Being Low in Certain Vitamins Cause Cracked, Dry Hands?

Curated by Claudia Shannon / Research Scientist / ishonest

Nutrients That Nourish Dry Skin

Hands aren't cracked up to what they used to be? You can rescue them with healthy foods.

Vitamin A, vitamin B1 (thiamin), vitamin B2 (riboflavin) and vitamin B3 (niacin) all help to maintain healthy skin, according to Harvard Health Publishing. Vitamin C also helps make the collagen that helps with healing wounds, which include the cracks that can develop in dry skin. Additionally, the Harvard T.H. School of Public Health notes that the mineral zinc is necessary to create new skin cells and repair damaged ones.

ishonest No.222 - Fine Lines & Wrinkles

No.222 - Fine Lines & Wrinkles

"Getting vitamin C from sources like berries, bell peppers, tomatoes and oranges, and vitamin A from foods like sweet potatoes, carrots, fish such as tuna, squash and broccoli, means you'll get these vitamins in combination with other skin-friendly antioxidants, she says.

Essential Fats Lock in Moisture

Omega-3 fats found in oily fish can also combat skin dryness, Sylvester Terry adds. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025 recommend consuming 8 ounces or more per week of seafood, including oil-rich choices like salmon, mackerel, tuna and trout.

Other Ways to Protect Hands

Harvard Health Publishing says that using petroleum jelly and moisturizing oils, such as mineral oil, on cracked, dry hands is an effective and inexpensive way to moisturize them. They also note these tips to avoid dry, cracked skin:

  • Use a humidifier to keep indoor air at around 60 percent moisture.
  • Avoid perfumed soaps and alcohol-containing products.
  • Avoid taking long hot baths.
  • Resist the temptation to scratch your skin (apply moisturizer to the spot instead).

Vitamin D is thought to play a role in immune system and skin barrier function. Some observational reports have suggested the vitamin can ease itchy skin, such as the type you might get on cracked dry hands, but it's not so clear- cut. A review article in the May 2015 issue of the Journal of Clinical Medicine concluded that the jury is still out on whether the vitamin helps eczema, and more trials are needed to assess its impact on the skin.

Nonetheless, as Cleveland Clinic points out, vitamin D is generally beneficial, and it's worth making sure you get enough of vitamin D. Your skin needs to be exposed to the sun to make the vitamin; oily fish is also a good source, with canned salmon providing 13.8 micrograms of vitamin D in a 3.25 ounce serving, according to the USDA.

Read more: 8 Ways to Save Your Skin if You Exercise Outside This Winter

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