How does Vitamin D Help Your Skin?
While we all know getting Vitamin D from sun exposure is the easiest way to obtain this essential micronutrient, we also know the sun can damage our skin.
Here's a guide on Vitamin D, its relation to your skin’s health, and ways to consume it in a safe manner.
Vitamin D: What is it?
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is responsible for the absorption of important minerals like calcium and phosphorous, both essential in building and maintaining bone health.
The human body synthesises Vitamin D when the skin is exposed to UV-B rays from the sun. However, it can be supplemented through foods such as fatty fish, eggs, fortified milk and milk products amongst others.
- There are two variants of Vitamin D - Vitamin D3 and D2. Both forms help you increase the overall Vitamin D levels of your body. However, they differ in their sources. Vitamin D3 is normally found in animal-based foods and is also formed when your skin is exposed to sunlight. On the other hand, Vitamin D2 is found in plant-based and fortified foods.
Vitamin D and the Skin: How are they related?
Is the skin just a medium for the synthesis of Vitamin D or do Vitamin D levels actually matter for your skins health? Well, both hold true. Vitamin D controls a variety of physiological processes in the skin; it is responsible for skin cell regeneration, forming your skin barrier, building the immunity of your skin, and also getting rid of unwanted cells from your skin. It essentially takes care of everything from how your skin looks, to how your skin feels and heals.
Vitamin D: How does it help the skin?
Prevents premature ageing: With age, DNA strands often degenerate and eventually die. Consumption of Vitamin D can help stabilise these DNA strands in our body, make them last longer, and hence prevent premature ageing. However, too much sun exposure can lead to accelerated skin ageing, and also increased the chances of skin damage and skin cancer. Therefore, it is important to balance your consumption of Vitamin D by including it in your meals and dietary supplements, along with basking in the sun.
Prevents skin cancer: It has been observed that women who consume Vitamin D supplements, as well as Calcium supplements, have a lowered risk of developing Melanoma. Vitamin D supplementation is also assumed to have anti-cancer benefits due to its anti-inflammatory qualities and ability to prevent cancer cell growth. While a short walk in the sun is also an option for consumption of Vitamin D, ensure that you only walk for the recommended amount of time to avoid sun damage.
- Prevents other skin issues: There are multiple skin issues such as psoriasis, eczema, and vitiligo for which a Vitamin D deficiency could be a contributing factor. Regular intake of Vitamin D either orally, or topically through products that have Vitamin D, can help in relieving the symptoms of these issues. Different skin issues may vary in their treatments; therefore it is essential to consult a dermatologist before you start your treatment. There are diseases like psoriasis that have shown better results when treated with sunlight and clinical creams rather than oral supplements; therefore, it is essential to consult a dermatologist before you start your treatment.
Is your skin craving Vitamin D?: The Obvious Signs
Skin rashes: In case you’re dealing with red, dry, or itchy skin, you might be deficient in Vitamin D. Apart from this, a lack of Vitamin D has also been associated with skin other common skin diseases.
Acne: If you’re dealing with acne, a Vitamin D deficiency might be the culprit. Not only does it cause hormonal changes, but it also causes a shortfall of acne preventing antioxidants in your body.
Skin ageing: Vitamin D deficiency can also hasten the ageing of your skin, by causing a variety of alterations in your body’s functioning. If you notice early indicators of ageing such as dull skin, visible pores, fine lines or wrinkles consult a dermatologist and seek guidance. Additionally, the capacity of your body to synthesize Vitamin D is also reduced with age. In this case, supplements can be your saviour.
My Vitamin D3 levels are low: How do I consume it in the best way possible?
Through food: Vitamin D is present in some of our daily food in varying amounts. While animal-based foods like tuna, oysters, and shrimp have the most amount of Vitamin D, it is plant-based foods like mushrooms and fortified foods like milk, spirulina, tofu, and yogurt that can help a vegetarian get their share of the Vitamin. Here, it is important to remember that it is Vitamin D3 that helps you maintain the overall Vitamin D levels of your body.
Through sunlight: Every time you are exposed to the sun, UVB rays convert the cholesterol in your skin cells to the energy required by your body to carry out Vitamin D synthesis. Therefore ‘walking in the sun’ is often advised when looking to attain the optimal levels of Vitamin D for your body. However, it is essential to be aware of the concerns of over-exposure to the sun. Consult a dermatologist for the healthy amount of sun time you can enjoy without overexposure.
- Through supplements: If you live in countries away from the equator, or if you’re a vegetarian, it is likely that your Vitamin D levels are low. The best thing to do? Get your vitamin levels checked and consult a doctor for your recommended dose of Vitamin D supplement.
Vitamin D is an essential vitamin that keeps your nervous system, physical body and emotional health strong. While this beginner’s guide has helped you understand the basics of it and how to get started, consult a doctor or nutritionist to better understand your body’s unique needs!