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  • Writer's pictureImogen Tingay

Vitamin D and Atopic Dermatitis – The key to skin health?

As the weather, hopefully, starts to warm up and we see more of the sun, your thoughts may turn to considering just how much Vitamin D you’ll be getting. We all know we need vitamin D, but did you know just how important it is to your skin wellbeing? Let’s start by diving into what vitamin D is and how its absorbed…

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is critical to health. It plays a key role in skeletal and cardiovascular disorders, cancers, central nervous system diseases, reproductive diseases, infections, and autoimmune and dermatological disorders, working in conjunction with calcium and phosphorus. In the UK we can only make vitamin D naturally (from sunlight) from the months of April to September meaning that we are at risk of deficiency during the winter months. Low vitamin D levels have been associated with a weakened immune system and higher risk of bone fracture as well as many more conditions.

When sunlight hits our skin, the ultraviolet rays are absorbed, and synthesis of vitamin D begins. At the stage of absorption, it is known as pre-vitamin D. It then requires heat and a trip to your liver where it is then converted into the form 25-hydroxyvitamin D (calcidiol). To become physiologically active, it then travels to the kidneys to be converted into hormone form; 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D (calcitriol) where it is then sent to your bones, immune cells, and liver cells.


Vitamin D has other roles in the body, including reduction of inflammation as well as processes such as cell growth. There has even now been research into whether vitamin D deficiency can cause eczema. . A key clinical review in 2015 proposed a link between eczema and lower levels of vitamin D and found that vitamin D helped protect the skin barrier and suppress inflammation. A 2018 systemic review found that children under 18 with low vitamin D levels had more severe eczema, with 67% seeing improvements after taking vitamin D supplements. Recent research published in the British Journal of Dermatology revealed that babies had a lower risk of developing atopic eczema in their first year if their mothers took 25mcg of vitamin D daily from 14 weeks of pregnancy until delivery.

These papers and reviews suggest that vitamin D supplementation could be a viable and valuable treatment option for those suffering from Atopic Dermatitis.


Sources of Vitamin D

Our main source, and the best one, of vitamin D is from sunlight. You don’t need to be in the sun long, just ten minutes per day in order to reach your daily quota of vitamin D. However, the sun does need to be strong enough and be directly on your face and lower arms. As mentioned previously, here in the UK and countries with a similar weather pattern or even darker winters, we’re unlikely to be able to get the vitamin D we need from our sunshine and so its useful to include it in your diet or via supplementation.

Foods containing Vitamin D:

· Mushrooms (Only trace amounts however, you can actually leave your mushrooms in the sun to boost their vitamin D levels!)

· Oily fish e.g., salmon

· Egg Yolks

· Flora, Plant milks and some breakfast cereals have vitamin D added.

The best and most reliable way to increase your vitamin D intake is to take a supplement of 10mcg or 1000 IU worth all year round. It is safe to take from 6 months of age and throughout pregnancy and lactation. Just be aware that mega doses of vitamin D ( over 6000IU, 150 mcg) is not recommended and can result in toxicity.

So remember this week to get outside in the sunshine and let it warm you face and arms as much as you can…and maybe pick up a supplement, your skin will thank you for it!

Happy Tuesday Everyone! x

1. National Institutes of Health - Office of dietary Supplements . Vitamin D - Factsheet for health professionals . 2022.

2. Diet and Eczema. National Eczema Society . [Online] September 2022. [Cited: 28 02 2023.]

3. Vitamin D Status and Efficacy of Vitamin D Supplementation in Atopic Dermatitis: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Min Jung Kim, Soo-Nyung Kim, Yang Won Lee, Yong Beom Choe, Kyu Joong Ahn. 12, 2016, Vol. 8.

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