Is vitamin D related to skin conditions like acne and psoriasis?

May 21, 2020

A deficiency in vitamin D has been linked to various skin diseases, including acne and psoriasis. Both acne and psoriasis are inflammatory diseases of the skin.

Vitamin D and acne

Acne is an inflammatory skin disease that can be recurring, painful, chronic, and sometimes disfiguring. Various scientists continue to research multiple anti-inflammatory products in relation to acne in order to learn more about the disease state and to possibly find a cure. Vitamin D has been shown to play an important role in inflammation by regulating immune cells which are involved in various inflammatory diseases. This has peaked scientists’ interest in researching vitamin D in acne patients.

Based on a recent study, patients with acne have a greater tendency to be vitamin D deficient. More specifically, 48.8% of patients with acne had a vitamin D deficiency whereas only 22.5% of patients without acne were also vitamin D deficient.

Moreover, the level of vitamin D in one’s system appears to affect the severity of the acne. This association is inversed, meaning that when vitamin D levels are low, acne severity is high, and vice versa.

The author of the study suggests that this association between vitamin D and acne may be due to vitamin D’s anti-inflammatory properties.

Vitamin D and psoriasis

Psoriasis is also a chronic inflammatory disease that affects the skin. It can result in skin lesions which can be painful, chronic, and can be perceived as disfiguring by the patient.

For decades, psoriasis patients were treated by being exposed to UV rays and sunlight. Since vitamin D is naturally produced in our skin after sun exposure, this has led scientists to be curious about the relationship between vitamin D and psoriasis.

Although low vitamin D levels have been associated with many other inflammatory diseases, the first study that made a link between low levels of vitamin D and psoriasis was published as recently as 2019. It is believed that vitamin D may play a role in regulating various inflammatory cells of the immune system which can lead to skin diseases such as psoriasis. It has also been reported that vitamin D plays a role in regulating cells called keratinocytes, which are important for our skin’s structure.

The authors clearly state that although there is a relationship, they are not suggesting that low levels of vitamin D actually cause psoriasis nor that higher levels could treat it.

What to make of vitamin D, acne, and psoriasis data?

Although there is an association between vitamin D levels and certain diseases, this does not mean that vitamin D can be used as a treatment. Vitamin D has been approved for the maintenance and growth of healthy bones and teeth and to prevent the bone disease known as rickets. Although this scientific research is interesting and warrants further studies, it does not provide enough evidence for use in those areas. However, it is always a good idea to make sure you are getting enough vitamin D either from your diet or by taking a daily supplement. Health Canada recommends that children and infants receive 400 IUs of vitamin D a day, and adults under 50 between 400 IU to 1000 IU daily.

  1. Liu, Wei et al. "The Anti-Inflammatory Effects Of Vitamin D In Tumorigenesis". International Journal Of Molecular Sciences, vol 19, no. 9, 2018, p. 2736. MDPI AG, doi:10.3390/ijms19092736.
  2. Lim S-K, Ha J-M, Lee Y-H, Lee Y, Seo Y-J, Kim C-D, et al. (2016) Comparison of Vitamin D Levels in Patients with and without Acne: A CaseControl Study Combined with a Randomized Controlled Trial. PLoS ONE 11(8): e0161162. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0161162
  3. Lim S-K, Ha J-M, Lee Y-H, Lee Y, Seo Y-J, Kim C-D, et al. (2016) Comparison of Vitamin D Levels in Patients with and without Acne: A CaseControl Study Combined with a Randomized Controlled Trial. PLoS ONE 11(8): e0161162. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0161162
  4. Lim S-K, Ha J-M, Lee Y-H, Lee Y, Seo Y-J, Kim C-D, et al. (2016) Comparison of Vitamin D Levels in Patients with and without Acne: A CaseControl Study Combined with a Randomized Controlled Trial. PLoS ONE 11(8): e0161162. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0161162
  5. Siwadon Pitukweerakul et al. "Hypovitaminosis D Is Associated With Psoriasis: A Systematic Review And Meta-Analysis". Kansas Journal Of Medicine, vol 12, no. 4, 2019, p. 103-108.
  6. Siwadon Pitukweerakul et al. "Hypovitaminosis D Is Associated With Psoriasis: A Systematic Review And Meta-Analysis". Kansas Journal Of Medicine, vol 12, no. 4, 2019, p. 103-108.
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