If you suffer from eczema, a skin condition that affects 10-20% of children and 3% of adults, you know how painful and frustrating this disease can be. Eczema occurs when your immune system doesn't cooperate properly with your skin. Your skin becomes dry, and bacteria invade. The dry, infected skin becomes irritated and itchy. Scratching the skin makes it even more vulnerable to infections, causing a vicious cycle. Fortunately, new research is finding that a vitamin may help.
Eczema sufferers have a few things in common. They're likely to have a family history of the disease. They're more likely to be female. They're more likely to have been born to older women. They're more likely to live in urban areas, cold climates, and industrialized countries. And they're more likely to be deficient in vitamin D. In fact, the more severe the eczema symptoms are, the more likely vitamin D levels are to be low. This doesn't necessarily mean that low vitamin D causes eczema. But the research suggests they're related.
Your immune cells and your skin cells have vitamin D receptors. Vitamin D helps the immune system by lowering levels of inflammatory proteins and increasing levels of antimicrobial proteins. This helps your body fight off bad bacteria and viruses. So it's possible that low levels of vitamin D may contribute to eczema because your immune and skin cells don't have one of the tools they need to function properly.
A 2012 study of people with eczema investigated the results of giving participants either 1,600 IU of vitamin D or a placebo daily for 60 days. They found that the group taking vitamin D showed improvements in their symptoms, particularly in the symptoms' severity. Another study, published in 2008, found that 80% of children suffering from eczema who received 1,000 IU of vitamin D improved, compared to only 17% of the children taking a placebo. Other studies have found similar results.
The link between vitamin D and eczema isn't yet conclusive. But it is promising. If you suffer from eczema, you may want to have your vitamin D3 level checked by your health care provider. Taking vitamin D could help your symptoms. And even if it doesn't, it's unlikely to make them worse, so it's often worth trying.
Discuss taking vitamin D and any other supplements with your doctor before you start. If you're pregnant, you may want to discuss this with your doctor even if you don't suffer from eczema yourself — studies have shown that a newborn's vitamin D level is related to the mother's level. And increasing the newborn's level decreases their risk of developing this condition. You can find 5,000 IU tablets of vitamin D by following this link.
To your health, naturally,