It’s well known that vitamin D plays a crucial role in skin health.
Low levels affect all skin types, and can be particularly detrimental if you suffer from conditions linked to your immune system like eczema or urticaria.
Last week, I got chatting to Kelly McCabe, a specialist dietitian and Founder of Eat and Think, who has a wealth of knowledge about vitamin D and its effects on the body.
Just in time for summer (and so a vitamin D boost thanks to the extra sunshine), Kelly has kindly agreed to write a two-part guest post.
The first will cover the links between low vitamin D levels and conditions like eczema, psoriasis and acne. The second, will assess whether you need more vitamin D and the ways you can safely increase your intake.
“A little known fact about vitamin D is that it is not actually a ‘vitamin’ in the true sense of the word. The term ‘vitamin’ is used to define a chemical which ‘is essential from the diet’.
However, vitamin D is an exception because dietary sources are limited and the vast majority of our vitamin D is derived through exposure to sunlight.
The “sunshine” vitamin has attracted a huge amount of attention in recent years, not least because we have discovered that a considerable proportion of the worldwide population are likely to be deficient.
We used to believe that vitamin D was only necessary for good bone health, however, we now understand that it affects the proper functioning of nearly every tissue in our bodies including the brain, heart, immune system and skin.
Dermatologists are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of vitamin D, especially in relation to a broad range of skin conditions.
Studies have shown that vitamin D supplementation in individuals with eczema who are deficient, can lead to an improvement in the severity of the skin condition.
It is likely that vitamin D improves the barrier function of the skin and dampens down the inflammatory immune response associated with eczema or dermatitis.
Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory skin disease which affects 2-3% of the population worldwide. Topical vitamin D is often prescribed for people with psoriasis (i.e. creams containing high levels of vitamin D), however these creams are often packed with irritating preservatives and alcohol which may trigger a more severe flare-up.
The exact link between vitamin D and psoriasis is not fully understood, but making sure people with psoriasis have an adequate level of vitamin D may be important in the management of this life-long condition.
Sebocytes, the cells which form our sebaceous glands and occasionally cause pimples, have been found to contain vitamin D receptors, meaning that vitamin D plays an important role in the function of our sebaceous glands.
Studies have shown that vitamin D can help to prevent the usual inflammatory response to the bacteria which causes acne, and can therefore help to reduce its severity.”
Stay tuned for part-two of Kelly’s Vitamin D focus tomorrow!