The Vitamin D Acne Connection
Vitamin D And Skin
We’ve been hearing whispers of a vitamin D acne connection for several years now. We all know that vitamin D is the “sunshine “ vitamin and that it is good for your bones. At the same time we’ve also been warned to always wear sunscreen and limit sun exposure for fear of premature aging and developing skin cancer. However more and more evidence is now cropping up, proving a vitamin D acne correlation. Vitamin D can reduce inflammation which means that it can be very helpful to those with acne and other skin problems. But who should we believe and what should we do?
What Is It?
Vitamin D is a steroid vitamin, a group of fat soluble pro hormones which encourage the absorption and metabolism of calcium and phosphorus. There are 5 forms of Vitamin D but only 2 forms matter to humans - D2 (ergocalciferol) and D3 (Cholecalciferol) Vitamin D is synthesized in the skin from cholesterol on exposure to the sun. It can also be obtained from food and supplements. 10-15 minutes of sun exposure 2 times a week on the face, arms, hands or back without sunscreen is necessary for adequate amounts of Vitamin D3. Longer exposure times do not produce more vitamin D and increases the risk of sunburn, premature again and skin cancer.
Vitamin D Acne Benefits
Vitamin D is antimicrobial. It can stimulate the production of cathelicidans which are natural antibiotics. These kill the P.acnes bacteria and prevent acne from occurring. The antioxidant properties of Vitamin D protect skin cells from oxidative stress, a key component in the cause of acne. Vitamin D is protective, shielding epidermal cells from UV radiation and exposure to chemotherapy.
In a 2008 study led by Richard Gallo M.D. Phd. Division of Dermatology at UCSD School of Medicine, researchers discovered that vitamin D supplementation supports the production of protective chemicals, which in turn helps prevent infections of the skin. It has been noted that acne can become worse during Winter when most of us do not get enough sunlight. It was brought to light in a 2006 study by J Reichrath et al. that vitamin D suppresses sebaceous gland activity and cell proliferation – less oil and less skin production of skin cells means less acne.
The Vitamin D acne benefits extends to its anti-inflammatory properties. But since it is dose dependent, with too much making its effects negative, more studies are necessary to understand the full extent of its capabilities.
What Does It Do?
How Much Vitamin D Do I Need?
If you are unable to get enough sunlight, you can still get the vitamin D you need from food and supplements. Experts recommend that those with a high risk of vitamin D deficiency consume 1000 IU each day. In the US the recommended daily intake is 600 IU/day. Toxicity levels are around 10,000-40,000 a day. Vitamin D is fat soluble which means you need to eat fat to absorb it.
What Foods Contain Vitamin D?
Salmon, tuna and mackerel are good sources of Vit D as well as fish liver oils. Beef liver, cheese and egg yolks also contain Vit D3. Most Vit D in foods in the western diet comes from fortified foods where the vitamin D is added. Oysters, fortified cereals, caviar, raw atlantic herring, pickled herring and cod liver oil and great sources.
One of the best things about vitamin D is its effect on mood. It effects the production and actions of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that plays an important part in the regulation of learning, mood and sleep. So not only are the vitamin D acne benefits numerous but you now have an added reason to add this sunshine vitamin to your diet!