ARTICLE AT A GLANCE
To keep your skin youthful, healthy and functional, apply a topical cream or moisturizer with vitamin D3.
Though sun exposure and vitamin D3 supplements keep your immune system strong, your mood stable and prevent cancer, your skin is the last organ to receive the vitamin D3 circulating in the blood and thus the last to receive the benefits of vitamin D3.
To learn more, read the full article below.
Unfortunately, between the ages of 20-70 your skin loses about 75% of its ability to produce vitamin D3(1)*.
Oral supplementation with vitamin D3 takes care of most of our vitamin D3 needs but it bypasses the natural process of getting vitamin D3 through the skin from the sun. Without adequate vitamin D3 in the skin, the skin will sag, become thin, wrinkled, fragile and unable to offer the protection and immunity that healthy skin should provide(2). New research on has shown that the topical application of vitamin D3 on the skin increases the expression of protective peptides that help repair the skin and protect it from prematurely aging(3).
Is Oral Vitamin D3 Enough?
Vitamin D3 was meant to be manufactured in the skin by the sun. Oral supplements are necessary, but will completely by-pass the skin and never deliver the needed amount of vitamin D3 the skin needs to stay healthy, functional and youthful.
The skin is the last organ in the body to receive the nutrition from foods and supplements, such as antioxidants, that are ingested into the body(4) and the last to receive the circulating vitamin D3 from an oral supplement. As the skin loses up to 75% of its ability to manufacture vitamin D3 with age, the skin can begin to atrophy and age prematurely.
Vitamin D3 Benefits the Skin
The active form of vitamin D3 (calcitriol) penetrates the fatty phospholipid layer of the skin and migrates directly to the nucleus of the cell. Here it binds with vitamin D3 receptors where it controls many processes including skin repair, skin cell production and the immune function of the skin(5).
The skin cells naturally die at a rate of about 30-40,000 cells per minute. Vitamin D3 plays a vital role in the production of specialized cells called keratinocytes, which are responsible for the production of millions of new healthy skin cells every few minutes(6).
These vitamin D3 dependent keratinocytes create the structural framework that supports the skin tone and locks in the moisture the skin needs to stay supple and soft. Without the production of keratinocytes in the skin, the skin will dry out, wrinkle, sag and become thin and fragile(7).
Vitamin D3 Boosts Innate Immunity
One of the body’s natural immune responses is called Innate Immunity where the body creates a non-specific immune response to foreign invaders, inflammation and infection. This Innate Immunity takes place in the skin and is very much dependent on vitamin D(8).
One of the mechanisms for this enhanced immune response is through modulating gene expressions that fight pathogens. In other words, vitamin D3 activates genes in skin cells that enhance the skin’s ability to protect the body from toxic invaders and infection.
Vitamin D3 Boosts Antioxidant Protection Within the Skin
Free radicals are harmful chemicals in the body which play a large role in the break down, degeneration and premature aging of the body and skin. Stress decreases the blood supply available to the skin, which causes the production of free radicals in the skin.
Vitamin D3 is a low molecular weight antioxidant that protects the skin from free radical damage. In fact, in one study, vitamin D3 was responsible for the production of enzymes that protected against free radicals and reduced lipid peroxidation (one of the most common causes of free radicals) better than Vitamin E (a powerful antioxidant)(9).
How Vitamin D3 Works
Humans were designed to get most of their vitamin D3 by getting adequate sun exposure in the summer months. UVB radiation from the sun combines with the natural cholesterol on the skin and creates Pre Vitamin D right on the skin. Within about an hour, this Pre Vitamin D converts to vitamin D3 or cholecalciferol (the supplemental vitamin D3) where it is transported and stored in the liver. When needed, it is shipped to the kidneys where it is converted into the super active form of vitamin D3 called calcitriol where it then re-enters the blood stream as the active form of vitamin D3 to be used throughout the body.
As we age, we lose the ability to produce vitamin D3 in the skin. Eighty seven percent of Americans are deficient in vitamin D, which is due to a variety of factors including decreased sun exposure, working indoors in the mid day when the sun produces the UVB radiation and the overuse of sunscreens.
Taking oral supplementation has proven to be an effective means of correcting vitamin D3 deficiencies. But when you by-pass the skin with oral supplementation does the skin suffer? New research shows that both oral supplementation and topical application of vitamin D3 as sun exposure or vitamin D3 cream, may support the protection and rejuvenation of aging skin.
1. Holick MF. Vitamin D. Am J Clin Nutr. 2004 Dec.
2. Matsumoto et al. Biochim Biophys Acta. 1991 May 17;1092(3):311-30
3. Zasloff. J Invest Dermatol, 2005
4. Tavakol et al. J Cosmet Sci. 2004, Mar-Apr;55(2):177-187
5. Berger et al. J of Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1988 Sept;67(3):607-13
6. Matsumoto et al. Biochim Biophys Acta. 1991 May 17;1092(3):311-30
7. Matsumoto et al. Biochim Biophys Acta. 1991 May 17;1092(3):311-30
8. Bikle et al. Vit D and the skin. J Bone Miner Metab. 2010 Mar;28(2):117-30
9. Sardar et al. Int J Vitam Nutr Res. 1996;66(1):285-8