I’ve been looking into Vitamin D lately and what I’m finding is jolting. It turns out most of us are deficient, and achieving adequate levels is critical to our health…and perhaps to acne.
What vitamin D does in our bodies: Vitamin D helps keep cells healthy. Pretty much all of our cells use Vitamin D, including our skin cells, and they don’t work optimally when they don’t have enough. When our cells don’t have enough Vitamin D, they tend to mature incorrectly. This may result in cancers, diabetes, stunted growth, muscle weakness, arthritis, bowel disease, and skin conditions like psoriasis and perhaps acne.
We don’t get enough: Evolution has created the human body to be a well tuned Vitamin D factory which makes just the right amount of Vitamin D for ideal health. Over billions of years, all the way back to some of the very earliest cellular lifeforms on earth, living things were designed to soak up the sun and produce vitamin D. Throughout human evolution, our species evolved many different skin tones depending on where we lived around the world in order for our skin to soak up just the right amount of sunlight to produce optimal Vitamin D levels. It’s that important.
Some varieties of fish and some fortified foods contain Vitamin D, but the sun is by far the leading way that our bodies get Vitamin D. However, in modern society, most of us no longer get the sun exposure Mother Nature intended, and thus do not produce adequate amounts of Vitamin D. The darker the skin tone, the more serious the deficiency tends to be, but even people with the light skin are often deficient. A 2006 Mayo Clinic review reported that 57% of general medicine inpatients in the U.S. were deficient. Levels were even higher in Europe. Chances are you may be deficient as well. My doctor ordered a full blood work done recently, and the one thing he expressed concern about was my slight Vitamin D deficiency. I take a Vitamin D pill almost every day, but even with this I remain slightly deficient.
What about acne? I’ll be looking more deeply into a possible Vitamin D and acne connection. Since Vitamin D helps keep cells from overproducing, it makes sense that proper amounts of Vitamin D could help prevent pores from overproducing cells, which is what ends up producing a clogged pore and an ensuing zit. Supplementation with Vitamin D or topical application of Vitamin D are both potentially an option. Already, the front line in psoriasis treatment is the application of topical Vitamin D. Could it help with acne too? I think it would be interesting to find out.
How to get enough: In almost every study I’m reading on Vitamin D deficiency, scientists recommend 5-10 minutes of exposure to the sun during 10am and 3pm, without wearing any SPF. Since most of us either work or go to school during those times, this can be difficult. In that case, they normally recommend taking a Vitamin D supplement. The minimum recommended amount seems to be 1000IU per day. However, this is what I take each day and I’m still slightly deficient. I’m considering bumping it up. Vitamin D can be toxic in super high amounts, but even at levels over 7000IU per day, researchers saw no adverse effects after two months of supplementation. From what I’m gathering from my reading, Vitamin D3 in particular is a safe choice, and is widely available on store shelves.
I’ve been telling all my friends and family to consider hanging out in the sun a little more, or alternately supplementing with Vitamin D. I really think it’s important. For people with acne in particular, I think daily supplementation of fish oil, zinc, a good multivitamin, and at least 1000IU of Vitamin D makes a lot of sense.