The link between vitamin D insufficiency and deficiency and atopic dermatitis (eczema) may not be as clear as some research has proposed. No argument that vitamin D promotes calcium and phosphate absorption, and is needed to maintain the growth of healthy bones, muscles, and increase immunity from some serious diseases. A study in the British Medical Journal found that increasing vitamin D intake reduces the risk of colds, flu and other respiratory infections like pneumonia but there are conflicting research results on whether vitamin D levels really have a bearing on eczema and psoriasis. But does vitamin D deficiency really impact eczema? In this blog, we try to sort out fact from fiction about vitamin D benefits and eczema prevalence, severity, treatment, and prevention.
When you think of vitamin D many of us associate sunshine as a primary source, which is correct. When sunshine or ultraviolet rays from sunlight interact with the skin it triggers a vitamin D synthesis. Vitamin D intake is so closely aligned with sun exposure that many call vitamin D the “Sunshine Vitamin”.
There are only a few foods that Vitamin D is naturally present and there are three forms of vitamin D in foods:
Vitamin D3 is available as a dietary supplement. The daily supplement dose recommended by the US Institute of Medicine is 10 – 20mg (or 400 – 800IU). Many health care professionals recommend increasing the dosage of vitamin D3 during the autumn and winter months when many people are likely to get less vitamin D from sunshine. Choose your brand of vitamin D3 supplements carefully as the FDA regulates but does not monitor the safety of purity of supplements.
Research studies sponsored by the Vitamin D Council, (a 501c nonprofit promoting the consumption of vitamin D supplement), have made a coherent argument that low vitamin D levels have increased the incidences of asthma, eczema, psoriasis and an immune molecule linked to other allergies and they have attempted to link successful treatment of asthma, eczema, and psoriasis to increased levels of vitamin D3. The Vitamin D Council’s research correlates conclusions that having high enough levels of vitamin D3 may reduce your risk of developing eczema and psoriasis and the prevalence of eczema and psoriasis flareups. And that people with normal to higher levels of vitamin D3 will help manage eczema flareups and they will have fewer skin infections.
Conversely, there are numerous other scientific and medical studies about the relationship between vitamin D3 deficiency and eczema that conclude taking vitamin D3 supplements for eczema, asthma, and psoriasis does not help reduce the occurrence of psoriasis or atopic dermatitis and not help relieve the itchiness. The facts and controversies about the relationship of atopic dermatitis and vitamin D3 are laid out in a very technical and detailed research article worth reading from the US National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health.
A prominent and leading 2017 study from a team of Canadian researchers led by Dr. Brent Richards, MD, and Dr. Despoina Manousaki, Ph.D. and published in the PLOS Medicine Journal and in the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) journal confirms the clinical study results regarding the relationship between eczema and vitamin D3 deficiencies.
This wide-ranging clinical study found that increasing vitamin D level is unlikely to reduce the risk and susceptibility to asthma, elevated immunoglobulin E (IgE) levels, psoriasis and atopic dermatitis conditions in adults or children.
Dr. Despoina Manousaki, the lead author, said: "Our findings suggest that previous associations between low vitamin D and atopic disease could be due to spurious associations with other factors. Efforts to increase vitamin D levels will probably not result in decreased risk of adult and pediatric atopic dermatitis, asthma, or elevated IgE levels.”
These findings contrast with a recent study from the same group which used similar methods to provide evidence supporting a causal role for vitamin D in the risk of multiple sclerosis, a common neurological disorder. "Our previous findings suggest that low vitamin D levels increase the risk for some inflammatory diseases like multiple sclerosis, but these effects do not translate to other inflammatory diseases like asthma, psoriasis and atopic dermatitis", said Dr. Richards.
It won't protect you against asthma, plaque psoriasis, atopic dermatitis or most other allergies based on results from this very credible clinical study by academic researchers, health care professionals, and nutrition experts. Conclusively the research indicates that vitamin D has no real effective impact on the occurrence, and severity health conditions such as atopic dermatitis, asthma, and plaque psoriasis.
If you have eczema the short answer is yes because there are outlying reasons for why you likely have insufficient or low levels of vitamin D and possibly even a deficiency of vitamin D. What is underlying most the medical research and clinical studies and some very practical points that low levels of vitamin D and eczema can be related when you consider the spurious associations Dr. Manouaski refers too in his 2017 research.
If you read through this article this far you already know that eczema is a skin condition characterized by very itchy, red, dry, sensitive skin rash that can crack and weep fluids in moderate to severe eczema cases. You also probably know there are thousands of potential triggers, and that there is no cure, but there are many different treatments can help improve the skin's condition, making life easier.
The best recommendations for treating eczema are:
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