Vitamin D in New Zealand
In the last thirty years due to the need to protect ourselves from the harmful effects of a depleted ozone layer, New Zealanders have lowered their body levels of Vitamin D.
Vitamin D, of course, is made in the body when UV rays from the sun hit bare skin, so when slapping sunscreen, hats and tee shirts on during the summer months the production of Vitamin D can reduce.
This has been theorised as one of the main reasons why vitamin D levels in New Zealanders has lowered and has been linked to respiratory, skin and immune issues.
The body’s cells have tiny receptors on them dedicated to allowing Vitamin D to attach. Once attached to the cell, Vitamin D then instructs the cell to perform various functions. While it is widely recognised that it helps with bone strengthening, Vitamin D also plays key roles in skin health, immunity, muscle strength and joint mobility
Various studies noted that people with skin disorders such as dermatitis were likely to have low levels of Vitamin D, and lower levels of vitamin D were also correlated in cases of severe dermatitis in another study.
Current Vitamin D levels are set at the optimum level for bone health, and seem not to take into consideration the functions mentioned above. When vitamin D levels rise over and above these levels, then Vitamin D can bind to places in the body such as cell skins.
Skin cells activated by Vitamin D decrease the chemicals responsible for creating some of the inflammation in the skin, such as found in dermatitis, and bump up the number of antimicrobial proteins in the skin. These proteins disable pathogens which may decrease the skin’s permeability and worsen the symptoms of dermatitis.
Vitamin D also enhances the function of Keratinocyte Growth Factor (KGF). This means the skin can grow more cells in the presence of Vitamin D, which in turn means that normal, heelaty skin growth can take place. Low KGF most likely will not help dermatitis and skin issues.
The Vitamin D Council on their website quote three studies where Vitamin D has shown to improve eczema, a form of dermatitis.
Some interesting findings showed up.
“A newborn’s vitamin D level is related to its mother’s vitamin D level. The researchers concluded that low levels of vitamin D in mothers during pregnancy may be related to their infants developing eczema. Improving vitamin D levels in pregnant women may help prevent eczema in their children.“ (https://www.vitamindcouncil.org/health-conditions/eczema/)
Other studies quoted on the Vitamin D Council’s web page talk about skin improving on Vitamin D versus a placebo, while they mention a Polish study that dosed people during winter on Vitamin D and then noticed that those that suffered skin complaints improved despite it being winter.
In a Korean study a direct link was shown between children with low Vitamin D levels due to low outside sun exposure and skin conditions. http://koreabizwire.com/lack-of-outdoor-activity-leads-to-atopic-dermatitis-in-children/62707
Should I or my children supplement with Vitamin D if we have dermatitis.
The short answer is yes.
Luckily in natural health circles there are many inroads to treating skin issues, such as, liver tonics, essential fatty acids, cleansing herbs and probiotics to name some. Vitamin D supplementation is cheap and effective, and very safe, and for small children compliance is high as Vitamin D often comes in a tasty drop form.
As a nutrient it should not create a healing crisis, as can happen with other methods and will slowly work in the back ground to improve Vitamin D nutrition to the skin. Skin cells belong to the epithelia family of cells, which means they are a surface or covering cell, shed themselves regularly, so results can be seen within six weeks though in some cases it may take up to three months to see full results.
Given that the severity of dermatitis varies from person to person and there is no such thing as a standard dose, 400iu per day for babies and up to 1000iu per day for older children and adults is well within safety limits. Consult your health professional if you think that higher than this is needed.