The 'sunshine' vitamin: all about vitamin D

bone health healthy skin sun exposure sunlight vitamin d Jan 22, 2024

As a dermatologist, I am always advising people to wear sunscreen and protect themselves from harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun. And then, I usually hear people say, "But what about Vitamin D?"

I'm really glad you asked! Vitamin D plays a vital role in maintaining our body's health, and we are learning more about it every day. One of the methods by which our skin produces vitamin D is through exposure to UVB radiation. 

What makes vitamin D so important, and what does it really do in our bodies?

One of its primary roles is in calcium absorption, important for maintaining strong bones and teeth. But wait, there's more! Beyond skeletal health, Vitamin D influences immune function, cellular growth, and has potent anti-inflammatory properties.

How do we get Vitamin D?

There are three ways to get vitamin D: from what we eat, supplements, and through our skin. When our skin is exposed to UVB rays from the sun, a chemical reaction occurs, converting a compound in the skin into the active form of vitamin D.

Certain foods are rich in vitamin D, like fortified dairy products, fish, and egg yolks. But sometimes, taking supplements is recommended, especially for people with limited sun exposure or specific dietary restrictions. 

Vitamin D and Skin Health:

The skin is not just a protective barrier; it's a dynamic organ with complex functions. Vitamin D influences skin health in several ways:

  1. Cell Growth and Repair: Vitamin D supports the growth, formation, and repair of skin cells. This is vital for maintaining the integrity of the skin and ensuring that it can effectively act as a barrier against pathogens.
  2. Anti-Inflammatory Properties: Vitamin D has anti-inflammatory properties that calm and soothe the skin, especially beneficial for those with conditions like eczema or psoriasis. It helps reduce redness and discomfort, providing relief and promoting healthier skin.
  3. Wound Healing: Sufficient levels of Vitamin D play an important role in supporting the body's effective healing processes for wounds. It promotes the production of antimicrobial peptides, aiding in the prevention of infections in cuts or wounds.
  4. Protection Against Aging: Vitamin D helps keep your skin young and healthy by protecting it from aging. It fights damage and supports the skin's natural ability to repair itself, maintaining resilience and promoting a youthful look.
  5. Management of Skin Conditions: Current research indicates that Vitamin D may play a part in managing specific skin conditions, like acne, vitiligo and hair loss. Nevertheless, more studies are required to confirm these connections.

Every day we are learning more about the health benefits of vitamin D. Personally, I've increased my vitamin D intake, especially after breaking a bone in my ankle this past fall! While sunlight is a source of vitamin D, opting for a supplement is a preferable and safer way to obtain Vitamin D. 

If you're concerned about your vitamin D levels, consider consulting your doctor for a check-up. Many people receive more UV exposure than they realize, but if you are deficient, a supplement can be beneficial in maintaining adequate levels.

Dive deep into the world of Vitamin D and its incredible impact on skin health and overall wellness in this week's podcast episode. 

A new podcast episode drops every Monday!


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