Vitamin D is essential to the body and most recognized for its important role in bone growth and even mood regulation. But did you know that vitamin D is also important to your skin? Read on to learn about vitamin D’s skin benefits and how to get more of this essential nutrient.
Vitamin D and Skin
Studies have shown that vitamin D has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties, as well as the ability to encourage tissue repair and offer some protection against DNA damage and redness caused by sun exposure. Due to its antimicrobial properties, a topical treatment that includes vitamin D can help decrease acne breakouts, while its anti-inflammatory properties can help calm red, inflamed acne symptoms.
Additionally, studies are showing that a vitamin D deficiency may play a role in the development of psoriasis while high vitamin D levels in the body could contribute to the onset of rosacea.
How can you get vitamin D?
When our skin is exposed to the sun’s UVB rays, the body naturally manufactures vitamin D by converting cholesterol. Additionally, vitamin D can be obtained through foods that are naturally rich in vitamin D, such as fatty fish and eggs, as well as vitamin supplements. Today, you can even get vitamin D via your skin, with an increasing number of skin care products adding the vitamin to formulations.
Experts believe that approximately 40% of the population is deficient in vitamin D. Research has shown that those who spend more time indoors are more likely to experience a deficiency. After age 65, when retirement allows individuals to spend more time outdoors, vitamin D deficiency rates decrease.
Vitamin D, Sunscreen and the Sun
It’s long been thought that the body cannot produce vitamin D if skin is exposed to the sun while wearing sunscreen. However, a recent study in the British Journal of Dermatology has challenged that assumption. It found that during a week of cloudless weather, with very high UV index, even when sunscreens were used properly, vitamin D levels in the body increased.
Some will argue that the best way to ensure adequate levels of vitamin D in the body is to venture outdoors without sunscreen several times a week for a few minutes at a time, preferably between the hours of 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Research has shown that vitamin D through this means lasts longer in the blood than ingested vitamin D. However, given that sunscreen use does not appear to inhibit vitamin D synthesis, there is no reason to avoid sun protection. The challenge, rather, is to simply get outdoors more while ensuring adequate sunscreen use.
If you do decide to go outdoors without sun protection, it’s important to be mindful of the factors that determine the amount of time you can safely spend in the sun without protection. After all, excess sun exposure has the potential to do more damage to your skin and your health than a vitamin D deficiency could.
Photo by Xavier Mouton Photographie