Skin Hydration Vitamins to Nourish Your Body

Many factors contribute to dry skin including stress and nutrition. Learn to nourish your body from the inside out with the best skin hydration vitamins.

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The sun, air, cold, and heat can wreak havoc on your skin making it dry and chapped. When suffering a case of dry skin your first instinct is to run to the store and get some topical treatments to salvage your skin. 

However, two factors that play a large role in dry skin are stress and nutrition. Are you suffering from dry, chapped skin? You may want to take a look at your lifestyle to know if these are the culprits.

Stress Effects On Skin

Stress effects on skin health can be harmful and stress that is unmanaged can be seen on your face. 

The relationship between stress and skin health has been documented since ancient times. Psychological stress has also been linked to many skin diseases. 

Research also confirms that the skin has a large role in the stress response. It not only can detect stress but it also becomes a target of the stress response.

The skin consists of two layers: the epidermis, and dermis. The dermis is the inner layer that connects the skin to nerves, sweat glands, blood, and lymph vessels. These are responsible for the sensitivity to heat, cold, pain, and pressure.

The epidermis is the outer layer. It is continually renewing as skin cells known as keratinocytes will multiple and eventually slough off. The dermis is the inside layer. An outermost layer lies on the epidermis called the stratum corneum (SC)

The SC makes up a membrane that protects the dermis from outside exposure. On it, there is a seal that keeps the skin hydrated. When the SC barrier is compromised flaky or dry skin can develop.

Stress is one catalyst for breaking down this skin barrier.

WIthin skin cells, there are stress hormones. They are activated when the body undergoes stress. One stress hormone is Epinephrine. Epidermal keratinocytes can produce this hormone. It activates a receptor that will increase calcium levels. Since calcium levels regulate how epidermis cells grow and function too much epinephrine may affect the epidermis’ health.

Collagen promotes skin hydration and elasticity. Epinephrine can affect collagen production leading to problems with wound healing.

Stress hormones bind to cell receptors. They decrease skin blood flow, alter immune and inflammation functions.

Chronic vs. Acute Stress Effects On Skin

Stress actives skin mast cells. In defense of stress, they will produce stress hormones. Skin cells will also produce stress hormones and inflammatory factors. This could lead to a vicious cycle of stress-induced inflammatory events.

Acute stress can affect skin cells. When the skin detects stress it will produce stress hormones and inflammatory factors as a protective measure. In the short-term this is not a big deal since there is a tight system in place to regulate cortisol levels from getting out of hand.

When acute stress becomes unmanaged it turns into chronic stress. Chronic stress can lead to a vicious cycle of inflammation. This can mean big problems for your skin. Chronic stress alters the stress response and weakens regulations that prevent cortisol production. Immune responses will also become compromised.

Chronic stress has the ability to

Stress hormones epinephrine, norepinephrine, and cortisol can increase DNA damage and interfere with cell repair leading to aged-looking skin.

While acute stress may help prevent free radical production, repeats of this short-term stress can actually increase free radical production in the skin.

Calming Stress Makes for Better Skin

If stress can increase skin dryness then calming the body of stress is the antidote. Stress management comes in many forms. Some ways to deal with stress include

Stress and Nutrition

In addition to the activities above, looking at your food intake can help with stress management. Getting enough calories is key to calming stress. One study found restricting calories actually increased total cortisol production. 

So if you’re under stress be sure to to not skip any meals!  

It’s also not how much you eat but what you eat. Getting all your essential vitamins and minerals can help with stress. Stress can also deplete vitamins and minerals. 

Dry and chapped skin is often a result of both stress and nutrition. Is your skin dry and chapped? You may not be getting adequate nutrition and could possibly have a vitamin deficiency. 

Dry Skin Vitamin Deficiency

How things look on the outside may be an indication of what is happening on the inside. Dry, chapped skin may be a sign of vitamin deficiency

One great way to calm stress and improve skin hydration is through nutrition. One way to tell if you are getting the necessary vitamins and minerals is by assessing your diet. A nutrient tracking app like Cronometer is helpful to know exactly what vitamins and minerals you are consuming.

Skin cells need nutrients to stay hydrated. Adding certain foods to your diet will help to give you that glow and hydration you need. So feed your body from the inside out and check out these skin hydration vitamins that will help retain the moisture your body is craving. 

Best Vitamins for Dry Skin

Vitamins and minerals can help to repair damage done by stress. Read on to learn the best vitamins for dry skin. 

Vitamin A

Do you have scaly, dry skin? You may not be getting enough vitamin A.

Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that is also an antioxidant. This nutrient is responsible for preventing free radical production. It can also improve skin function by regenerating skin cells, strengthening the epidermis, and preventing skin aging. 

Vitamin A can increase collagen production which helps prevents wrinkles. This nutrient also is responsible for producing glycosaminoglycan. This compound can help your skin retain moisture. 

Foods with Vitamin A

Pump up the vitamin A in your diet with the following foods:

  • Beef liver
  • Cod liver oil 
  • Pasture-raised egg yolks
  • Grass-fed dairy
  • Herring
  • Sweet potato
  • Carrots
  • Spinach Broccoli 
  • Mango 
  • Tomato
  • Papaya

B Vitamins

B Vitamins play an integral role in producing energy and lowering stress. They repair and build collagen and elastin which keeps skin looking vibrant.

These vitamins are water-soluble and may need to be replenished if you are not getting enough on a daily basis.

Niacin is one B vitamin that helps to lower inflammation. This can help to retain the skin barrier for longer lasting skin moisture. 

B Vitamins will help your skin be soft and smooth. Dry, cracked skin around the mouth is also a sign of a B deficiency.

The combination of various B complex vitamins promoted the growth of skin cells. This can be helpful in retaining the SC barrier for improved skin.

Foods with B Vitamins

  • Thiamine (B1) food sources include beans, legumes, nuts, quinoa, and lean pork
  • Riboflavin (B2) food sources include grass fed dairy, eggs, salmon, almonds, halibut, chicken, beef, broccoli, asparagus, broccoli, quinoa, and spinach
  • Niacin (B3) food sources include meat, poultry, tuna, salmon, quinoa, and seeds
  • Pantothenic Acid (B5) food sources include liver, kidney, fish, shellfish, pork, chicken, egg yolk, milk, yogurt, mushrooms, avocados, broccoli, and sweet potatoes
  • B6 (Pyridoxine) food sources include salmon, turkey, avocado, chicken, spinach, banana, and hazelnuts
  • Biotin (B7) food sources include egg yolk, liver, and yeast
  • Folate (B9) food sources include green leafy vegetables, asparagus, citrus fruit juices
  • B12 (Methylcobalamin) sources include meat, poultry, fish (including shellfish)

Omega 3 Fatty Acids and other Fats

The oils found in cold-water fish are rich in omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). These are essential fatty acids and need to be obtained from the diet. They can reduce inflammation. 

Omega 3 fatty acids also help to limit water loss in the skin cells. Animal research also says fish oil may heal skin barriers to improve hydration and moisture. 

Aloe vera contains fats similar to omega 3 fatty acids. Women found improved skin moisture, reduced water loss after taking aloe vera. They also had increased skin elasticity and collagen over time. 

Aloe vera is also responsible for stimulating the production of hyaluronic acid. This compound can prevent the signs of aging by increasing skin elasticity and hydration. It may also decrease skin roughness and wrinkle depth.

Ceramides are a type of fat. They are found in the stratum corneum. They play a key role in protecting the skin from losing water. The combination of ceramides ad other healthy fats in the skin creates a water-impermeable barrier. This prevents water from getting out and microorganisms from getting in.

Low ceramide levels tend to occur with dry skin conditions. Adding ceramides to the diet improved hydration. Women with dry skin given a ceramide-rich food supplement had a significant increase in skin hydration. 

Foods with Omega 3 Fatty Acids, Hyaluronic Acid, and Ceramides

Omega-three fatty acids can be found in the following foods:

  • Olive oil
  • Avocado oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Fatty fishes (sardines, herring, tuna, anchovies)
  • Almonds
  • Walnuts

Foods rich in hyaluronic acid include root vegetables, bone broth, citrus fruits, and leafy greens.

Foods rich in ceramides include dairy, eggs, sweet potatoes, and brown rice.

Vitamin C

A very important skin nutrient is vitamin C. Also known as L-ascorbic acid is a water-soluble vitamin that has antioxidant properties. It is not made by the body and needs to be obtained from the diet. 

Normal skin will have high levels of vitamin C. This suggests adequate intake is needed for optimal skin health.

This vitamin helps to form collagen. Collagen is like a sponge and retains water. It plumps up your skin to be moisturized and hydrated. 

A deficiency in this nutrient can lead to scurvy. It will impair collagen production and lead to skin lesions, gum bleeding, and poor wound healing

Women who consumed collagen peptides paired with vitamin C had significantly improved skin hydration, elasticity, roughness, and density.  

Foods with Vitamin C

Foods with vitamin C include colorful fruits and vegetables The richest sources are fresh citrus fruits, blackcurrant, rosehip, guava, chili pepper or parsley. 

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is an essential fat-soluble vitamin. It helps strengthen bones and improve absorption of calcium, magnesium, and phosphate.

This nutrient is integral to the production, metabolism, and activity of the skin. It regulates cell repair and is responsible for maintaining adequate barrier function.

A deficiency is associated with inflammatory skin disorders psoriasis and atopic dermatitis. They are characterized by dry flaky skin. It has been helpful to improve skin conditions by regulating immune function.

IT has hormone-like ability that can regulate epidermal cells and protect the skin from damage. 

Those with low D levels often had less skin moisture on average. Moisture increased while dryness decreased after receiving vitamin D.

Foods with Vitamin D

Many people are susceptible to low vitamin D levels and deficiency. Especially if they do not get effective year-round sun-exposure. There are foods that contain vitamin D but they are in smaller amounts. 

They include fish with bones, fatty fish and egg yolks. Some products like can be enriched with vitamin D. Often the version found in these is D2. Often this is not as absorbable as D3. 

Be careful with the intake of these products. Too much vitamin D that is not active may be harmful.

The sun is the best way to get your active D3. If you cannot get adequate sunlight a supplement may needed depending on your vitamin D levels. 

For adults under 65 years of age, it is recommended to get 600 to 800 IUs of vitamin D daily to prevent deficiency. Those over 65 may need 800 to 1000 IUs.

I like Seeking Health’s vitamin D*. You should get a blood test* to determine your vitamin D levels before starting a supplement.

Adequate levels run between 60 and 90 ng/mL. If you have levels below that you could look to supplement or try to get 10 minutes of sunlight a day.

If you live in a colder climate or are unable to get enough sunlight you can also try blue light therapy*.

It is like getting a beach day in a box. Amazon is a great source to find blue light lamps.


Fiber is not just a heart-healthy food but it can also help improve skin too. There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber forms a gel when digested. This fiber helps keeps you full. Insoluble fiber helps to add bulk to the stool and pass food through the digestive tract. It is what helps relieve constipation.

Soluble fiber can help improve gut health. Healthy bacteria like to feed on soluble fiber in the gut. This will create short-chain fatty acids (SCFA). These compounds are an energy source for bacteria to thrive and improve gut health. A healthy gut will produce hydrated skin.

Insoluble fiber binds to wastes and flushes them out of the body. A decrease in toxins can help your skin look young and vibrant. 

Foods with Fiber

Most people don’t get enough fiber. Requirements for women are between 25 and 35 grams per day. Fiber is found in fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. 


Like most body cells, water is essential for healthy skin. Water plays a role in skin health by providing lubrication, thermoregulation and shock absorption. It is also integral to prevent dehydration.

When looking at skin cells water intake had a slight increase in strengthening the SC membrane as well as elasticity among those with low water intake. Reductions in rough and dry skin were also observed.

Water also helps the kidneys filter out toxins and wastes. This can help improve skin conditions.

Foods with High Water Content

Getting adequate fluid intake can be done through water and other hydrating foods. A recommended intake of water is eight 8-ounce glasses a day. High-water foods include many vegetables and fruits. You can also get water intake from soups, stews, and broths that are low in sodium.


Zinc has many functions. It helps with immune health, protein synthesis, wound healing, DNA production, and cell division. It creates membranes that support skin cells and has an anti-inflammatory property.

This nutrient also protects against UV damage. Zinc supports vitamin A by carrying it in the blood.

Low levels of zinc are often seen in those with stress, anxiety, and depression.

A zinc deficiency has been associated with dry skin. The combination of zinc, vitamin C, vitamin E, and collagen peptides improved skin hydration, elasticity, roughness, and density

Foods with Zinc

Zinc can be found in organ meats such as the kidney, liver, beef, and lamb. It is also in oysters, shellfish, and scallops. Plant foods like pumpkin seeds and nuts also contain zinc.

Supplementation of zinc* is only recommended if you have low levels. Taking up to 30 mg a day is considered safe. If you get more than 40 mg a day you could throw off your copper levels.


Though probiotics are not specifically a nutrient. I would consider them honorary skin hydration vitamins. These good bacteria have been found to decrease skin roughness when given to mice. Specifically, L. plantarum K8 lysates had a moisturizing effect. When given to humans skin barrier repair and function were also improved with this strain of probiotic.

When Do You Need to Supplement

Hydration supplements may be recommended depending on how low your nutrient levels become. When in doubt It is best to start with nutrition. Adding various foods containing these skin hydration vitamins can help hydrate dry skin. 

Positive outcomes were associated with vitamin C and collagen supplements, but often the supplement contained multiple nutrients so it’s hard to tell what exact vitamin exactly made the difference in skin hydration.

Fish oil and vitamin D supplements were found to improve skin moisture when tested. Many people are deficient in vitamin D so supplementing could be helpful. But it is recommended to get your levels checked before taking anything. 

Depending on your diet you could be getting enough fish oil. However, if you’re not eating two servings a week of fish you may benefit from an omega-3 fatty acid supplement*.

Before You Start to Supplement

Some vitamins are okay to supplement without knowing your levels, but the best way to know what you need to to get micronutrient testing done. This is a great way to know if you have actual deficiencies. 

B vitamins are often depleted in those under chronic stress. Taking a B-complex may be helpful depending on your health. 

If you do want to supplement, look for a third-party tested quality product. Always talk with a Registered Dietitian and doctor before starting if you have any health conditions and/or are on any medications.

Final Thoughts On Skin Hydration Vitamins 

Nutritional science shows the importance of getting adequate vitamins and minerals. Without these, we can be subject to chronic stress and dry skin. The addition of these skin hydration vitamins along with stress management techniques can help to calm the body of stress and restore hydration.

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