What’s the Verdict on Vitamin D?
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Atopic Dermatitis (AD) is a chronic inflammatory skin condition that most often occurs in young children. More than 25% of children will experience some form of AD. Nearly half of all cases begin before a baby is 6 months old; 85%-90% appear before a child reaches 5 years old.1

AD, characterized by red, itchy, scaly skin. A key factor in atopic dermatitis is that you have a defective skin barrier. Vitamin D plays a protective role in the outer layers of skin, which create a barrier to infection and allergic reactions. AD can be a challenge for adults and children and has environmental and genetic contributing factors. There is often a family history of allergies and asthma. According to some studies, Vitamin D plays a protective role in the layers of skin, which create a barrier to infection and allergic reactions. The effects of AD are a change in the top layers of skin (epidermal barrier) and abnormal immune response. Vitamin D can act as an immunomodulator, helping to regulate the immune cells in the skin in protecting against the characteristic lesions of atopic dermatitis.

Not really a vitamin

Vitamin D, which is not really a vitamin, has been shown to play a significant role in treating the symptoms of AD in children when used as a supplement. The literature is not clear about the effects of Vitamin D. Some studies have yielded results that demonstrate therapeutic effectiveness while others suggest that the presence of high amounts of Vitamin D can aggravate AD. More, larger scale studies will likely be carried out to further determine the role of Vitamin D supplementation in the development or prevention of allergic conditions.

Vitamin D is really a steroid hormone called cholecalciferol. It plays a role in multiple body systems. Vitamin D is important for building strong bones and teeth, and general skeletal development. It is involved in calcium homeostasis, used to maintain proper calcium and phosphate levels in the blood, heart health, nerve function and autoimmune functions.2

Vitamin D can be created by the body. It is generated by sunlight and goes through multiple chemical processes to modify it for your body’s use. For generations, parents have told their children to go out and play because sun exposure was thought to play an important role in strength and development. Climate also plays a role in AD. Symptoms tend to worsen in winter when there is less exposure to the sun/UVB rays due to skin being covered up by layers of clothing.

More research needed

Vitamin D deficiency has become a health concern over time, and is in part attributed to dietary and lifestyle behaviors. Less time outdoors, due in part to office work exceeding field and construction work, has led to reduced exposure to sunlight. Even sunscreen can block Vitamin D production. Children are particularly vulnerable to Vitamin D deficiency.2

Large clinical trials over a prolonged period of time will be needed to further investigate the effectiveness of Vitamin D supplementation as a treatment for AD.3 Today’s literature demonstrates a beneficial effect in many studies while also being controversial and having a causative effect on developing or worsening of AD in others. Always check with your doctor to understand the recommendations that are best for you and your family.

view references
  1. Di filippo P, Scaparrotta A. Vitamin D supplementation modulates the immune system and improves atopic dermatitis in children. Int Arch Allergy Immunol. 2015;166(2):91-6. https://www.karger.com/Article/FullText/371350. Accessed online February 5, 2018
  2. Vestita M, Filoni A. Vitamin D and atopic dermatitis in childhood. J Immunol Res. 2015;2015:257879. https://www.hindawi.com/journals/jir/2015/257879/. Accessed online February 5, 2018
  3. Kim, G., Bae, J. Vitamin D and atopic dermatitis: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Published in Nutrition Vol.32:9 Published September, 2016 http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0899900716000770. Accessed online February 6, 2018.
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