- A vitamin D deficiency can affect more than just your bones; it can affect your skin as well.
- Healthy vitamin D levels might help prevent skin from prematurely aging but too much sun leads to accelerated skin aging.
- Some studies have found that vitamin D can help treat skin conditions like dry skin, psoriasis, or eczema.
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With more and more research showing that most Americans don't get enough vitamin D, you might be wondering if a vitamin D deficiency is actually a big deal for your overall health and well-being.
Getting enough vitamin D can impact your health in many ways, especially when it comes to your skin.
INSIDER spoke with two board-certified dermatologists and a registered nurse, and they explained the link between vitamin D and your skin, revealing why it's crucial to get the right amount by way of adequate sun exposure, foods rich in vitamin D, or supplements.
Vitamin D is largely linked to bone health but is also crucial for your skin's health.
"Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is responsible for calcium homeostasis and bone health," explains Los Angeles-based board-certified dermatologist Tsippora Shainhouse, MD, FAAD. "Vitamin D increases the efficiency of calcium and phosphorus absorption from the small intestine and aids in the maturation of osteoclasts in the bone."
Dr. Shainhouse added that "healthy levels of vitamin D have been demonstrated to prevent skin aging, promote healthy bone growth, possibly reduce the risk of certain cancers, and even improve mood."
It's easy to check if your levels are sufficient but many Americans are vitamin D deficient.
"According to a 2009 report published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, 77% of Americans have a deficiency in vitamin D levels, affecting their overall health," explains New York City-based registered nurse Rebecca Park.
"Vitamin D deficiency results from lack of exposure to sunlight (for example: if you live in the northern hemisphere, [cover up with clothing, or simply avoid the sun and wear sunscreen]), impaired vitamin D absorption [due to a medical condition], medications that impair vitamin D absorption, and low dietary intake," added Dr. Shainhouse. "Individuals at highest risk are those who are institutionalized, the elderly, or those with more darkly pigmented skin."
Park added that people over the age of 50 have less ability to synthesize vitamin D from sunlight and are at a greater risk of osteoporosis and arthritis, fractures, muscle weakness, and cancers.
"Testing for Vitamin D deficiency involves a simple blood test," said Dr. Shainhouse. "The lab should measure the level of bioavailable vitamin D, which is D3 (the type that the skin makes). There is a range of normal, low normal, moderate and severe deficiency."
Your doctor can test you annually.
There are several ways that being vitamin D deficient might impact your skin.
Your skin is your body's largest organ, and the skin is much more closely linked to your overall health than many people even realize. But given the risks of sun exposure and skin cancer, INSIDER asked our experts to explain how we can safely expose our skin to the sun to reap the benefits of natural vitamin D without damaging our skin, and they gave us the scoop.
The sun is an "important source for vitamin D in a person who does not have a diet rich in these foods," said Pennsylvania-based board-certified dermatologist Erum Ilyas, MD, MBE, FAAD. She added that "the key to remember with sun exposure, however, is that you do not need a sunburn to get a healthy amount of vitamin D."
Read more: How to get enough vitamin D without the sun
"It is perfectly okay to spend time outdoors safely to improve your vitamin D levels," she adds. She did say, however, that avoiding a sunburn is key.
Healthy vitamin D levels might help prevent skin from prematurely aging, but there's an important caveat.
"Healthy levels of vitamin D have been demonstrated to prevent skin aging," said Dr. Shainhouse. "Skin aging can be demonstrated molecularly, by the shortening of telomeres, the caps of genetic material on the free ends of DNA strands. These telomeres shorten with age, rendering the DNA more and more unstable, until the cell dies. A 2007 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition demonstrated that telomeres were significantly longer in patients with the highest serum vitamin D levels, compared to those with the lowest … equivalent to five years of aging."
Park agreed confirming that vitamin D is crucial for skin protection. Further, calcitriol (the active form of vitamin D) helps in skin cell growth, repair, and metabolism as well as prevents skin aging.
"But too much sun leads to accelerated skin aging," she said, with Dr. Shainhouse agreeing, adding that "ultraviolet light (sun light) does cause direct DNA damage, skin injury and skin cancers. Hence, sunlight is not the best way to get your vitamin D."
Aside from vitamin D supplements that your doctor can recommend, Dr. Ilyas explains that a diet rich in vitamin D is the best place to start.
Skin cancer and vitamin D exposure are closely linked, but supplements can help.
All three of our experts expressed the importance of proper sunscreen use, no matter the season or weather condition, with Park telling us that "you can still wear sunscreen and produce enough vitamin D from sun exposure."
But Dr. Shainhouse told us that "women with a history of non-melanoma skin cancer who take vitamin D plus calcium supplements have a lower risk for developing melanoma, a potentially lethal form of skin cancer, whose incidence is on the rise."
"Vitamin D supplementation is thought to have the potential for an anti-cancer benefit from its anti-inflammatory properties and inhibiting the proliferation of cancer cells," added Dr. Ilyas.
Vitamin D supplements may help with many skin conditions, including dry, itchy skin, and psoriasis.
"If you have extremely dry skin, psoriasis, or eczema, you should definitely be taking vitamin D," said Park. But oral supplements aren't necessarily the best treatment, depending on the condition.
"Although research may suggest that those with psoriasis may have a higher likelihood of low vitamin D levels, this is not considered a causal link," said Dr. Ilyas. "However, sunlight and topical vitamin D [treatments] are well established to help manage and treat psoriasis. Oral vitamin D supplementation has not necessarily been shown to have the same benefit."
"Ichthyosis, a form of severe dry skin, has been shown to have an association with low vitamin D levels," she added.
Your dermatologist can determine if supplements are part of the best treatment option for your individual skin concerns.
The link between eczema and vitamin D levels is a bit murkier, though.
"The studies on vitamin D and eczema and atopic dermatitis links have shown mixed results," said Dr. Ilyas.
"Some studies have shown no correlation between the incidence of atopic dermatitis and vitamin D levels, and some have shown that supplementation of vitamin D shows little benefit on improving eczema, with some studies showing that those with higher levels of vitamin D early in life may have a higher incidence of eczema — the results are all over the place."
According to Park, however, if you don't notice your eczema get better after two or three months, you should talk to your doctor because eczema might not be the culprit.
Acne sufferers might also want to check their vitamin D levels.
Acne is the most common skin condition, but its link to vitamin D is less concrete.
"Vitamin D deficiency is more common in people with acne," said Park, adding that "the deficiency is inversely correlated with the severity of the acne. One study shows that people with acne had lower levels of vitamin D. These patients were supplemented with 1,000 IU of vitamin D. After eight weeks, their inflammatory lesions showed improvements."
But Dr. Ilyas pointed out that these studies are not conclusive and more research is needed. As with any health or skin concerns, checking in with your doctor is the most important way to help ease concerns and determine a treatment plan that works for you and your body.
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How does vitamin D affect skin? ›
Results: Vitamin D is integrally connected to the skin for its synthesis, metabolism, and activity. It regulates many physiological processes in the skin ranging from cellular proliferation, differentiation, and apoptosis to barrier maintenance and immune functions.How does vitamin D deficiency affect skin and hair? ›
Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to alopecia, the autoimmune condition that causes bald patches on the scalp and other areas of the body. Both men and women can experience alopecia. Another study found that women 18 to 45 years old who experienced alopecia or other types of hair loss had low levels of vitamin D.Can vitamin d3 cause skin problems? ›
This occurs when your body mistakenly recognizes the vitamin D-3 as a potentially harmful chemical and mounts an immune response against it. Mild allergic reactions can cause rashes, hives and nasal congestion, while more severe reactions can affect your ability to breathe and even prove fatal.
When the skin is injured, a higher amount of vitamin D intake will enhance healing and better outcomes. Additionally, vitamin D promotes the creation of cathelicidin, an antimicrobial peptide the immune system uses to fight off wound infections.What does vitamin D deficiency skin look like? ›
If you're lacking in vitamin D, your skin may tell on you. For example, if you're not getting enough vitamin D, your complexion might be dull, lacking that desired glow and you might also experience dry, flaky skin on your face and other areas of your body.Can low vitamin D cause itchy skin? ›
Dry, itchy skin is often a sign of a vitamin D deficiency. As vitamin D is created through skin exposure to the sun and cholesterol in the skin, in the winter months, when sunlight exposure is less, people often experience dry, itchy skin attributing it to the cold weather.How long does it take to recover from vitamin D deficiency? ›
How Much Vitamin D Do I Need Per Day? Besides going outdoors in the sunshine, there are two others ways to improve the amount of vitamin D in your system: eating foods rich in vitamin D and supplements. “Adding an over-the-counter vitamin D supplement can make improvements in just three to four months time.What are the signs you need vitamin D? ›
- Not sleeping well.
- Bone pain or achiness.
- Depression or feelings of sadness.
- Hair loss.
- Muscle weakness.
- Loss of appetite.
- Getting sick more easily.
Some research has shown that low blood levels of vitamin D are associated with skin conditions, including eczema and psoriasis — both of which can cause dry skin (2). Additionally, vitamin D supplements have been shown to significantly improve symptoms of skin disorders that cause dry, itchy skin, including eczema (3).Which deficiency causes skin problems? ›
Skin lesions associated with vitamin B12 deficiency are skin hyperpigmentation, vitiligo, angular stomatitis, and hair changes. Cutaneous lesions that do not respond to conventional therapy can be an indication of vitamin B12 deficiency. Malabsorption is the most common cause of vitamin B12 deficiency.
What vitamin deficiencies cause skin problems? ›
Niacin. Niacin, also known as vitamin B3, plays a vital role in cell metabolism and the breakdown of carbohydrates, fats, proteins, and fatty acid and cholesterol synthesis. Pellagra, the disease of late-stage niacin deficiency, causes a variety of skin symptoms such as dermatitis and a dark, scaly rash.What are the negative effects of vitamin D3? ›
- chest pain, feeling short of breath;
- growth problems (in a child taking cholecalciferol); or.
- early signs of vitamin D overdose--weakness, metallic taste in your mouth, weight loss, muscle or bone pain, constipation, nausea, and vomiting.
Which Vitamin D Is Best For Skin? Vitamin D3 also known as cholecalciferol, is a form of vitamin D that is produced naturally in your body upon exposure to sunlight. Vitamin D3 in its activated form does all the wonders on your skin regeneration and other metabolic functions in the skin.What is the best vitamin for skin? ›
Vitamin D is one of the best vitamins for your skin, along with vitamins C, E, and K. Making sure you get enough vitamins can keep your skin looking healthy and youthful. This could translate to a reduction in: dark spots.How long does it take for vitamin D to work? ›
How Long Does It Take for Vitamin D to Work? If you have a vitamin D deficiency, you may notice improvements within 4-6 weeks of consistent supplementation. However, that timeframe can vary depending on what your baseline vitamin D levels are.Does vitamin D deficiency cause light spots on skin? ›
Deficiencies in calcium, vitamin D and vitamin E can cause white patches on the skin. While harmless, these white spots indicate that you need to eat a healthy, balanced diet.Can low vitamin D affect your hair? ›
Can Vitamin D Deficiency Cause Hair Loss? Vitamin D is metabolized in the skin by keratinocytes. These are skin cells that process keratin, a protein in hair, nails, and skin. When the body doesn't have enough vitamin D, keratinocytes in hair follicles have trouble regulating hair growth and shedding.Why is my skin so itchy all the time? ›
Examples include dry skin (xerosis), eczema (dermatitis), psoriasis, scabies, parasites, burns, scars, insect bites and hives. Internal diseases. Itching on the whole body might be a symptom of an underlying illness, such as liver disease, kidney disease, anemia, diabetes, thyroid problems and certain cancers.How does your body react to low vitamin D? ›
The four primary symptoms of vitamin D deficiency include: Fatigue. Muscle weakness, pain or cramps. Bone and joint pain.What deficiency causes skin itching? ›
Dermatitis includes dry, itchy and reddening skin which can be a sign of zinc, niacin and essential fatty acid (such as omega 3s) deficiency. You can isolate a niacin deficiency, as the skin normally reacts to sunlight causing red lesions.
Which of the following illnesses can be caused by a lack of vitamin D? ›
Severe lack of vitamin D in children causes rickets. Symptoms of rickets include: Incorrect growth patterns due to bowed or bent bones. Muscle weakness.When should I take vitamin D morning or night? ›
While the best timing has not been established, scientific data to confirm anecdotal reports that supplementing at night may interfere with sleep is unavailable. Current research suggests you can fit vitamin D into your routine whenever you prefer.What level is severe vitamin D deficiency? ›
Definition of vitamin D deficiency
A cutoff of <25 or <30 nmol/L (or 10/12 ng/ml) increases the risk of osteomalacia and nutritional rickets dramatically, and therefore is considered to determine severe vitamin D deficiency [13,14,15,16].
Oranges are one of the fruits rich in Vitamin D as its juice is fortified with calcium & vitamin D. This is one of the best sources of vitamin D for people who are lactose intolerant and cannot include milk & dairy products in their diet.What vitamin deficiency causes small white spots on skin? ›
A deficiency in vitamin B-12 can present itself as white spots or patches on your skin. Since vitamin B-12 is also essential for the production of hemoglobin in red blood cells, you may also be at risk for pernicious anemia, a condition that causes pale skin, fever, and weight loss.Does vitamin D affect hair and nails? ›
Vitamin D stimulates hair follicles to grow, and so when the body does not have enough, the hair may be affected. A vitamin D deficiency may also be linked to alopecia areata, an autoimmune condition that causes patchy hair loss.Why am I getting skin issues? ›
Allergies, irritants, genetic makeup, certain diseases, and immune system problems can cause skin conditions.What are the three common skin problems? ›
Common skin conditions include acne, contact dermatitis, benign tumors, cancers, atopic dermatitis (also called eczema), and psoriasis.Can low vitamin D cause eczema? ›
Recently eczema phenotypes have also been found to be associated with multiple vitamin D pathway genes . Thus, vitamin D deficiency is a strong candidate in the rising predisposition to eczema.What vitamin deficiency causes skin not to heal? ›
Low vitamin A levels can result in delayed wound healing and susceptibility to infection. Serious stress or injury can cause an increase in vitamin A requirements. While the mechanisms of vitamin A in wound healing are still not well understood, it is clear that it plays an important role.
What organs does vitamin D3 affect? ›
Vitamin D undergoes further chemical changes, first in the liver and then in the kidneys, to become calcitriol. Calcitriol acts on the intestine, kidneys, and bones to maintain normal levels of blood calcium and phosphorus.What medications should not be taken with vitamin D3? ›
- Aluminum. ...
- Anticonvulsants. ...
- Atorvastatin (Lipitor). ...
- Calcipotriene (Dovonex, Sorilux). ...
- Cholestyramine (Prevalite). ...
- Cytochrome P-450 3A4 (CYP3A4) substrates. ...
- Digoxin (Lanoxin). ...
- Diltiazem (Cardizem, Tiazac, others).
Recent studies suggest that vitamin D3 may help lower blood pressure in people with hypertension and vitamin D deficiency as well as certain groups of people with hypertension only.Does vitamin d3 reduce belly fat? ›
Besides boosting mood and promoting calcium absorption, recent studies have shown that vitamin D may also aid in weight loss. For people with extra belly fat, a vitamin D supplement may be beneficial.What is the best vitamin for Crepey skin? ›
- antioxidants such as carotenoids, tocophenols, and flavonoids.
- vitamins A, C, D, and E.
- omega-3 fatty acids.
Vitamin D is also thought to help with fine lines and wrinkles – mostly through its ability to act as an antioxidant. This helps your body to fight off free-radicals which are thought to cause lines on our skin and the general deterioration that comes as we get older.Which vitamin makes your skin clear? ›
Increasing consumption of vitamin A, D, zinc, and vitamin E can help fight acne and lead to clearer skin. For more tips on acne treatment and supplements, consult a dermatologist or pharmacist for more information.Do you feel a difference after taking vitamin D? ›
"For the vast majority of people, even those with low but not deficient levels, taking extra vitamin D will not provide any short-term noticeable benefits like feeling better, having more energy, or improvement in mental focus."What deficiency causes weakness in legs? ›
Muscle weakness due to vitamin D deficiency is predominantly of the proximal muscle groups and is manifested by a feeling of heaviness in the legs, tiring easily, and difficulty in mounting stairs and rising from a chair; the deficiency is reversible with supplementation (15–18).How can I raise my vitamin D level quickly? ›
- Go outdoors and feel the sun on your skin.
- Eat Vitamin D-rich foods.
- Take Vitamin D supplements.
- Get a Vitamin D shot.
Does vitamin D affect skin and hair? ›
Vitamin D is metabolized in the skin by keratinocytes. These are skin cells that process keratin, a protein in hair, nails, and skin. When the body doesn't have enough vitamin D, keratinocytes in hair follicles have trouble regulating hair growth and shedding.Does vitamin D make skin stronger? ›
Park agreed confirming that vitamin D is crucial for skin protection. Further, calcitriol (the active form of vitamin D) helps in skin cell growth, repair, and metabolism as well as prevents skin aging. "But too much sun leads to accelerated skin aging," she said, with Dr.What are the 3 effects of vitamin D on the body? ›
It is a fat-soluble vitamin that has long been known to help the body absorb and retain calcium and phosphorus; both are critical for building bone. Also, laboratory studies show that vitamin D can reduce cancer cell growth, help control infections and reduce inflammation.Can lack of vitamin D dry out skin? ›
'One tell-tale skin sign of a vitamin D deficiency is dry, itchy skin on the face, which may occur all over or on areas such as cheeks, chin and forehead. In some severe cases, those with a deficiency may also develop eczema, this is thought to be caused by an immune system dysfunction.
Generally, it takes a few weeks of taking daily vitamin D supplements for vitamin D levels in the body to rise. Each 1,000 IU of vitamin D3 taken daily is expected to raise blood levels of 25(OD)D by 10 ng/ml after a few weeks.What organs does vitamin D affect? ›
Skin Liver and Kidneys
Vitamin D undergoes further chemical changes, first in the liver and then in the kidneys, to become calcitriol. Calcitriol acts on the intestine, kidneys, and bones to maintain normal levels of blood calcium and phosphorus.
These nutrients are needed to keep bones, teeth and muscles healthy. A lack of vitamin D can lead to bone deformities such as rickets in children, and bone pain caused by a condition called osteomalacia in adults.