The elusive connection between vitamin D and skin health
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that has an imperative role in health. It regulates calcium metabolism and homeostasis, but its scope of function extends beyond that, particularly the skin.
The production of vitamin D occurs in the skin in response to ultraviolet B radiation from sunlight. Once it is synthesized, it exerts an immunomodulatory effect on immune cells by dampening overactive signaling cells from secreting inflammatory mediators, in addition, vitamin D aids in the defense against opportunistic infections of the skin by upregulating antimicrobial gene expression, which collectively consolidates and maintains the integrity of the cutaneous barrier.
A myriad of studies in the literature have highlighted vitamin D’s potential therapeutic properties for a number of dermatological diseases, namely psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, vitiligo and many other skin maladies. One study elucidated that oral vitamin D conferred to an improvement of psoriasis in 88% of the patients. Another meta-analysis study demonstrated that the risk of vitiligo is inversely associated with vitamin D serum.
There are many sources in which you can ascertain vitamin D. Exposure to sunlight is remarkably efficient at converting vitamin D into its active form, followed by dietary supplementation, with negligible amount present in dietary intake, mostly in commercialized processed foods which has been fortified with essential compounds.
With a growing body of research on this matter and promising results, vitamin D has proven to be a quintessential vitamin for the skin. Insufficient levels are therefore associated with multiple dermatological disorders, and adequate sunlight exposure and supplementation with regular blood tests for vitamin D serum level are advisable for healthy skin.
Written by: Naif Alshaikh, Medical Student
Bergqvist C, Ezzedine K. Vitamin D and the skin: what should a dermatologist know? G Ital Dermatol Venereol 2019;154:669-80. DOI: 10.23736/S0392-0488.19.06433-2
Wadhwa B, Relhan V, Goel K, Kochhar AM, Garg VK. Vitamin D and skin diseases: A review. Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol 2015;81:344-55
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