With all the recent news, vitamin D, known as the sunshine vitamin, is getting more and more popularity due to its health benefits, skin health included. Vitamin D regulates the calcium and phosphorus levels in the blood, vitamin D promotes anti-tumor activity, vitamin D helps fighting a cold, vitamin D boosts brain power, vitamin D strengthens bones, vitamin D slows down aging… !!!
But there are a few things to consider before sunbathing or supplementing our diet. What are the real benefits of vitamin D on skin health? What do the latest studies show? Are there any risks of taking too much and could it actually deteriorate skin health?
What are the benefits of vitamin D on skin health?
Vitamin D & Psoriasis
The main benefit of vitamin D on skin health is in the treatment of psoriasis. Topical vitamin D is commonly used to treat itching and flaking as vitamin D plays a role in skin cell metabolism and growth. There are many vitamin D3 topical ointments, such as Taclonex and Dovonex, that use a naturally occurring active form of vitamin D3 called Calcitriol. They have few side effects, unlike steroid containing creams.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved calcitriol ointment 3 μg/g (Vectical, Galderma Laboratories, LP) to treat psoriasis (Source: FDA Approves Calcitriol Ointment for Psoriasis).
Vitamin D & Atopic Dermatitis
Taking oral vitamin D may help prevent skin infections in adults with atopic dermatitis, according to researchers from the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine (Source: Administration of oral vitamin D induces cathelicidin production in atopic individuals from the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology).
Vitamin D & aging of skin
As a powerful antioxidant, vitamin D would play a role in preventing the premature aging of skin. In fact, researchers say vitamin D could help slow down the aging of cells and tissues (Source: Vitamin D ‘may help slow ageing’).
Can sunlight improve skin health?
A certain amount of sunlight on skin may be necessary for good health and skin health. For example, psoriatic skin lesions are reduced by sunlight. The notion that sunlight can improve skin conditions, such as acne, psoriasis, or eczema is what caused scientists and dermatologists to develop UVB light treatments. Because Vitamin D3 is produced in skin exposed to sunlight, specifically ultraviolet B radiation, these treatments help produce vitamin D without having the harmful effect of UVA.
Sunlight exposure carries risks, including skin cancer, and too much sun exposure could have a negative impact on your skin as well. This is why you want to be very careful about it.
Studies show that UVA can cause cancerous mutations, and can also break down the vitamin D formed in the skin after outdoor UVB exposure (Source: Shocking update: Sunshine Can Actually Decrease Your Vitamin D Levels).
New evidence also shows it takes up to 48 hours before you absorb the majority of the vitamin D that was generated by exposing your skin to the sun. It means that you shouldn’t wash with soap for two full days after sun exposure otherwise you rinse away the vitamin D…
So, what are the best sources of vitamin D?
The risk of skin cancer can be avoided with dietary absorption, either through diet or as a dietary supplement.
Natural sources of vitamin D
Natural sources of vitamin D include mainly fish liver oils, such as cod liver oil (15 mL provides 1,360 IU), fish (Herring, Catfish, Salmon, Mackerel, Sardines, Tuna), eggs (one whole egg provides 20 IU) and beef liver (100 g provides 15 IU).
Vitamin D supplementation
It is necessary to ask a practitioner before taking a vitamin D supplement. It depends if you suffer from a Vitamin D deficiency, which can result from inadequate intake, not enough sunlight exposure, disorders that limit its absorption, and conditions that impair conversion of vitamin D (mostly liver or kidney disorders).
Are there any risks of taking too much vitamin D?
According to Wikipedia:
“The exact long-term safe dose of vitamin D is not known. In 1997 the U.S. Dietary Reference Intake Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) of vitamin D for children and adults was set at 50 micrograms/day (2,000 IU), but this is viewed as outdated and overly restrictive. A 2007 risk assessment suggested that 250 micrograms/day (10,000 IU) in healthy adults should be adopted as the tolerable upper limit. In adults, sustained intake of 2500 micrograms/day (100,000 IU) can produce toxicity within a few months.”
However, a research demonstrates that ingested vitamin D is immunosuppressive and that low blood levels of vitamin D may be actually a result of the disease process. Supplementation may make the disease worse (Source: Vitamin D Deficiency Study Raises New Questions About Disease And Supplements).
Another study shows that increased vitamin D intake is not protective against melanoma, and may actually increase the risk (Source: SID: Vitamin D Supplements No Help Against Melanoma).
What to think about it? If you have heard of other studies, please let us know in the comments below…
Other useful links about vitamin D
- Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Vitamin D (Office of Dietary Supplements)
- Mushrooms may yield vitamin D bonanza