Vitamin D may protect skin from within

October 17, 2008

Oral supplements of vitamin D may boost production of protective compounds in the skin, and may ultimate help prevent skin infections, according to a new study. The clinical study focused on patients with atopic dermatitis; a condition characterised by areas of severe itching, redness and scaling. Atopic dermatitis (AD) a form of eczema is one of the first signs of allergy during the early days of life and is due to incomplete or faulty development of the immune system.
The scientists recruited 14 people with moderate to severe atopic dermatitis and 14 people with normal skin. All of the participants were given daily vitamin D supplements of 4000 IUs for 21 days. The researchers analysed skin lesions at the start and end of the study, and levels of cathelicidin were determined. After supplementation, the skin of people with AD showed statistically significant increases in cathelicidin from 3.53 to 23.91 relative copy units (RCU). Moreover, skin improved somewhat in this short period of time. The study was performed at the University of California, San Diego and is reported in the October 2008 issue of the Journal of Allergy & Clinical Immunology.

Vitamin D deficiency makes bowel disease worse

A vitamin D deficiency can make inflammatory bowel disease more severe for patients with Crohn’s disease or colitis and worsens the quality of life for affected individuals, according to a study presented this week at the 73rd annual scientific meeting of the American College of Gastroenterology.
Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis are inflammatory bowel diseases marked by chronic inflammation in the intestines, leading to symptoms like abdominal pain and diarrhea. Surgical removal of a portion of the intestines is often used to treat these conditions. People with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) are also known to be at increased risk of developing colon cancer.

Vitamin D deficiency is common in patients with IBD. In their study of 504 IBD patients, roughly half were vitamin D deficient at some point, with 11 percent being severely deficient. The researchers found that vitamin D deficiency was associated with greater disease activity compared to normal levels of vitamin D in both Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis patients.