A Skin Essential
Vitamin D deficiency has become so common in recent years that doctors now test for it automatically when doing blood tests.
It’s not just skin that vitamin D is important for, it’s important for preventing osteoporosis, prostate problems, breast and other cancers, hypertension, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic pain and inflammatory bowel disease. Vitamin D used to be added to milk, it was supposed to be a cheap way to protect the public from deficiency.
However, Vitamin D3 is made from cholesterol in the skin and requires the sun to activate the process. The season of the year changes the angle that the sun’s rays reach the Earth and that angle will affect how much UVB reaches the skin. It’s worth knowing that the further north you live the less intense the UV exposure is because the sun is low and its rays have further to travel. If you live above 35° latitude you are unable to make vitamin D from the sun between November and March.
It helps to regulate inflammation in the skin. Most diets don’t provide adequate amounts of vitamin D so anyone who doesn’t receive enough sun exposure is at risk of developing a deficiency – muscle weakness, fibromyalgia, impaired balance and depression can all be signs of deficiency.
Psoriasis is probably the skin condition that vitamin D is most notably good for; though most people think that it’s just sunlight which is doing the job. In a way it is, but the job that sunlight is doing is to trigger the body’s vitamin D production which helps to heal psoriasis.
Skin types are classified on a scale of 1 to 6. Type I is fair and burns very easily whereas type 6 is dark skinned and never burns. It’s worth remembering that dark skinned people will require up to 10 times the amount of sunlight as fair skinned people because it’s harder for the sun to penetrate their skin and to manufacture vitamin D.
Dietary sources of vitamin D are from fortified dairy products although this form of vitamin D is D2 (calciferol) which is not the active form. It is absorbed in the small intestine. The other dietary source is in fish liver oils. If this is how you want to get your vitamin D, be sure to use fish oils that have been tested in a lab for heavy metals and chemicals. Not all fish oils are equal!