Myotonic muscular dystrophy is a disease that affects the skeletal muscles, the muscles that control the digestive system, and the cardiac muscles. What you might not expect a muscle disease to affect is the skin. But according to research published in the journal Neuromuscular Disorders, people who have this disease often have abnormal moles and premature signs of aging. And this is particularly true if they're deficient in a certain vitamin, one that's important for all of us.
Researchers from the University of Rome wanted to get a better picture of the relationship between skin issues and myotonic dystrophy. So they examined the skin of 60 people with myotonic dystrophy type 1 (DM1), 15 people with myotonic dystrophy type 2 (DM2), and 103 control participants without myotonic dystrophy. They found that the myotonic dystrophy participants were more likely to have abnormal spots on their skin and signs of early aging, including dysplastic nevi, alopecia, xerosis, and seborrheic dermatitis. However, none of the abnormal spots showed signs of melanoma.
Interestingly, there was an inverse relationship between the dysplastic nevi and xerosis and the participants' vitamin D levels. While it's possible that the disease was affecting the participants' ability to utilize vitamin D effectively, this study offers an important reminder that adequate levels of vitamin D are important to our skin's health.
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It's true that you can get vitamin D from the sun. But that can easily backfire if you're trying to get all your vitamin D from the sun. Spending time in the sun causes an interesting reaction to take place. As the sun's UV-B rays hit the skin, it causes this reaction, which enables skin cells to manufacture vitamin D. So how can you spend time in the sun, get your vitamin D, and avoid sun-damaged skin? Sun damage is most likely if you're fair skinned. So here's how you can get all you want from the sun without the damage. Simply go outside for 10 minutes in the midday sun — in shorts and a tank top with no sunscreen. This will give you enough radiation to produce about 10,000 IU of vitamin D.
This can be difficult in the winter months. So to keep on top of your vitamin D needs, you will most likely need to supplement
. You'll need to take 5,000 IU most days to maintain healthy levels, whether you suffer from myotonic dystrophy or not. Ideally, get your blood level of Vitamin D measured at your next doctor's appointment. If you're low or low normal — mix it up — get some sun on your entire body and/or supplement.
To your health, naturally,