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  5. Vitamin D Deficiency On Skin: Effects, Symptoms & Treatments

Did you know the deficiency of vitamin D can impact your skin health in many ways? Vitamin D is not only essential for your bone health but also plays a crucial role in maintaining the health of your skin.

In this article, we tell you how vitamin D benefits your skin, how its deficiency results in different skin problems, how to identify the symptoms and what are the effective treatments. Let's begin!

Our Ayurvedic Doctor Speaks

“Vitamin D deficiency makes your skin prone to damages caused by different environmental factors such as pollution, UV rays, harsh weather, chemicals, etc. It also prevents moisture retention in your skin, which makes it dry and dull.”

Dr. Zeel Gandhi (Bachelor of Ayurveda, Medicine & Surgery), Chief Ayurvedic Doctor, Vedix

Can Vitamin D Deficiency Affect Your Skin?

Vitamin D is responsible for triggering certain receptors that promote the formation of skin barriers [1]. Its deficiency affects the skin barrier, which may in turn result in different microbial infections.

“Vitamin D deficiency makes your skin prone to damages caused by different environmental factors such as pollution, UV rays, harsh weather, chemicals, etc. It also prevents moisture retention in your skin, which makes it dry and dull,” says Dr. Zeel Gandhi, Chief Ayurvedic Doctor at Vedix.

In a pan-India study conducted in 2019, it was found that about 70-90% of Indians have vitamin D deficiency.

What Does Vitamin D Do For Your Skin?

1. Controls Inflammation

Vitamin D has mild-to-moderate anti-inflammatory properties that help in treating inflammatory conditions in your skin such as eczema, psoriasis, vitiligo, etc.

2. Protects Skin

Vitamin D acts as a steroid that stimulates proliferation, regulates and stabilizes the functioning of genes in your skin. A study on Vitamin D in cutaneous carcinogenesis suggest that vitamin D protects your skin from developing cancer.

3. Reduces Environmental Damage On Skin

Vitamin D acts as a powerful antioxidant for your skin which helps in fighting the free radical damage triggered by different environmental factors.

4. Normalizes Cell Turnover

Vitamin D is useful in preventing the build-up of dead cells in the skin pores. It works to normalize the cell turnover in your skin.

Signs And Symptoms Of Vitamin D Deficiency On Skin

Some of the signs and symptoms of vitamin D deficiency include:

  • Being sick or prone to infections often [2]
  • Fatigue and tiredness [3]
  • Pains in bones, especially back pain [4]
  • Depression [5]
  • Bone loss [6]
  • Hair loss [7]
  • Muscle pain [8]
  • Weight gain [9]
  • Anxiety [10]

Important Note:

Seek medical help immediately when you notice any of the symptoms associated with vitamin D deficiency. Your doctor may suggest you test the vitamin D levels in your body.

Other signs of vitamin D Deficiency that reflect on the skin are:

1. Skin Rashes

When you have vitamin D deficiency, you may experience dry, itchy skin with a red rash. Studies conducted by the Research Department, Division of Translational Medicine, Doha, claimed that Vitamin D helps in controlling the inflammatory responses in your skin when it is exposed to different environmental irritants and infections.

“People with skin conditions such as psoriasis, eczema, dermatitis have lowered levels of vitamin D,” says Dr. Zeel.

2. Impaired Wound Healing

When the wound healing process slows down after an injury or surgery it might be an indication of vitamin D deficiency in your body. Vitamin D is responsible for the production of compounds that are essential for the formation of new skin, as a part of the wound-healing process.

Vitamin D also plays a crucial role in fighting infection and controlling inflammation, which is very important for the proper healing of wounds in your skin. Hence, inadequate levels of vitamin D in the body lead to poor wound healing in your skin.

Studies have shown that vitamin D supplementation improves the wound healing process in people with vitamin D deficiency.

3. Acne

Vitamin D is linked to the production of sebum in the skin. Vitamin D deficiency can cause hormonal imbalance and excessive secretion of sebum in the sebaceous glands. This, in turn, results in acne breakouts in your skin.

In a Study on Comparison of Vitamin D Levels in Patients with and without Acne conducted among a sample size of 80 people, it is found that about 49% of people with acne are found to have vitamin D deficiency compared to 23% of people who are acne-free.

Another Study on Preliminary evidence for vitamin D deficiency in nodulocystic acne also suggested that acne may hinder the production of vitamin D in your skin.

4. Premature Aging

Researchers still did not fully understand how vitamin D deficiency can accelerate the premature ageing of the skin. However, experts believe that it is linked to the antioxidant properties and skin barrier protection provided by vitamin D.

Studies conducted by the Department of Dermatology, College of Medicine, Seoul National University, found that the skin with vitamin D deficiency develops sunburns faster, leading to photoaging. This also contributes to the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines on your skin at a younger age.

Vitamin D Deficiency Skin Diseases

1. Can Lack Of Vitamin D Cause Skin Pigmentation Or White Spots On Skin?

ear-view-on-female-back-vitiligo

Vitamin D primarily promotes the production of melanin in your skin, which gives your skin a darker pigment. The deficiency may result in hypopigmentation disorders wherein our skin develops white spots and patches.

Studies suggest that lower vitamin D levels are associated with vitiligo and other autoimmune skin disorders.

2. Can Vitamin D Deficiency Cause Itchy Skin Conditions?

Studies have found that vitamin D deficiency is linked with the risk of developing conditions such as atopic dermatitis, psoriasis, and eczema.

Research on Vitamin D and atopic dermatitis supports that vitamin D is quite effective in treating atopic dermatitis. It helps in significantly controlling the severity of the dermatitis symptoms in your skin.

3. Can Vitamin D Deficiency Cause Ichthyosis?

Ichthyosis is a genetic skin disorder in which the skin becomes severely dry and scaly. Ichthyosis is often linked to vitamin D deficiency which is responsible for compromised skin barrier function.

Ways To Increase Your Vitamin D Levels

1. Sunlight Exposure

Vitamin D is also known as ''the sunshine vitamin'' as sunlight is one of its best sources. A certain type of cholesterol present in your skin converts into vitamin D when it is exposed to UV-B radiation from the sun.

‘’Performing light exercises in the morning sun, can highly improve the vitamin D conversion under the skin, on exposure to sun,” says Dr. Zeel.

However, exposing your skin to sun exposure for a long time may lead to sun damage on your skin. Hence, you need to follow certain guidelines to expose your skin to sunlight. They are as follows:

  • More melanin is present in people with darker skin tones and this compound inhibits the production of vitamin D. Hence, people with dark skin tones should spend more time in the sun than those with lighter skin tones to get enough vitamin D.
  • Studies on Vitamin D suggest that 8-15 minutes of daily sun exposure is sufficient for people with lighter skin tone while people with darker skin tone need some more time.
  • As you age, the production of vitamin D also decreases in your skin. Hence, try spending more time under morning sunlight as you age.
  • As vitamin D is formed by the liver and kidney after absorption of sun rays by skin, the abdomen and back part of the body have to be directly exposed to sun rays for quick absorption.
  • Wearing transparent clothes like white clothes which absorb sunlight, is much helpful for absorption while exposed to sunlight.

Vedix Tip: The best time to expose your skin to the sunlight for vitamin D is in the morning before 10 a.m and evening after 4 p.m.

2. Vitamin D Foods

Seafood and fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, anchovies, shrimp, mackerel, oysters, sardines, etc. are the richest sources of vitamin D. Egg yolks too have a fair amount of vitamin D. Among vegetarian foods, mushrooms are the only source of vitamin D.

“You can also consider vitamin D-fortified foods such as tofu, ready-to-eat cereals, cow's milk, plant-based alternatives for milk such as hemp, soy, almond milk, yogurt, orange juice, among others,” says Dr. Zeel.

3. Supplements

People who are not able to get sufficient vitamin D from their diet or sunlight exposure, may choose to take vitamin D supplements. Vitamin D is available in two main forms - D2 which can be derived from plants and D3 which can be taken from animals.

Experts suggest that taking D3 supplements is way more effective in treating vitamin D deficiency when compared to D2 supplements. However, vegans can opt for D2 supplements that are widely available.

How Is Vitamin D Deficiency Diagnosed?

Clinically, vitamin D deficiency can be diagnosed using a 25-hydroxy vitamin D blood test. A person is considered vitamin D deficient if the levels are less than 12ng/mL.

How Much Vitamin D Do You Need?

Dr. Zeel recommends not exceeding 4000 IU of vitamin D3 per day for an average adult. However, it depends upon the severity of the deficiency. Doctors prescribe vitamin D dosage based on a person's weight, age, and deficiency levels.

The protocol from the Endocrine Society recommends taking a high dosage of vitamin D3 of 50000 IU thrice a week for a month or once a week for 2-3 months to treat severe vitamin deficiency.

Important Note:

Take vitamin D supplements only under the guidance of your doctor. Self-prescription can often lead to hypervitaminosis which affects your health in different ways.

How Long Does It Take To Recover From Vitamin D Deficiency?

The recovery time for vitamin D deficiency varies from person to person as it depends upon the deficiency levels. In general, it takes up to 2-3 months to restore the vitamin D levels in the body.

The Last Word

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble nutrient that is essential for the proper functioning of your skin. Besides exposing your skin to the morning sunlight, a proper diet and doctor recommended supplements help you resolve the vitamin D deficiency, thus, the related skin problems.

At Vedix, we customize an Ayurvedic skincare regimen for you by evaluating your unique skin needs.

Know Your Dosha Now

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