Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that helps the body absorb calcium and enables healthy bone mineralization. Other important functions of the nutrient include staving off certain cancers and heart disease. Vitamin D also seems to have skin-soothing properties. When applied to hives and rashes, the sunshine vitamin helps reduce symptoms.
Keratosis pilaris is a common skin problem caused when protein in the skin forms hard deposits in hair follicles. In mild cases, small bumps on the skin can occur on the upper arms that have a very rough texture. Keratosis pilaris can also form on the thighs and buttocks, and less frequently on the face – a condition that looks similar to acne. MedlinePlus reports that skin creams containing vitamin D can ease symptoms of keratosis pilaris. It can take months, however, for the condition to clear up.
People with chronic hive outbreaks might benefit by adding vitamin D to their diet, according to the University of Nebraska Medical Center. Also, it’s important that patients who have this condition get tested for a vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D supplementation might offer relief to people who get the itchy skin bumps at least three times a week, or episodes that last longer than six weeks. The uncomfortable welts have also been known to affect breathing.
An estimated tens of millions of Americans have low blood levels of vitamin D, according to the Harvard School of Public Health. Part of the reason is because vitamin D is created in the body when ultraviolet sunlight hits the skin. Dr. Michael Holick from the vitamin D skin and bone research laboratory at Boston University explains that going outside in the sun for 15 minutes, three times weekly, is all it takes to get the equivalent of 10,000 IU of vitamin D. Due to the very real threat of skin cancer, however, people are wearing sunblock, which essentially blocks 99 percent of the rays necessary for vitamin D synthesis, Holick says. And the damaging effects of the sun do not end there; too much unprotected sun exposure could cause small, fluid-filled blisters to appear on the skin.
Recommended Daily Allowance
The best way to get vitamin D, according to Holick, is through sun exposure. For people who are sensitive to the sun, live in a climate that does not get a lot of sunlight or cannot get the required exposure necessary for vitamin D production, vitamin D supplements are a good substitute. The recommended daily allowance of vitamin D is 600 IU for kids and adults from age 1 year old to 69. Thereafter, senior citizens need 800 IU. The sunshine vitamin is also found in abundance, at 1,360 IU per serving, in cod; 447 IU per serving in salmon; and 137 IU per serving in fortified orange juice. If bumps appear after you begin supplementing your diet with vitamin D, you should see your doctor to rule out an underlying health problem.
- Harvard School of Public Health: Vitamin D and Health
- "New England Journal of Medicine"; "Vitamin D Deficiency";Dr. Michael Holick; July 2007
- MedlinePlus; "Keratosis Pilaris"; December 2009
- University of Nebraska Medical Center; "UNMC Study Links Chronic Hives, Vitamin D Deficiency"; Vicky Cerino; January 2011
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Vitamin D
Shannon Marks started her journalism career in 1994. She was a reporter at the "Beachcomber" in Rehoboth Beach, Del., and contributed to "Philadelphia Weekly." Marks also served as a research editor, reporter and contributing writer at lifestyle, travel and entertainment magazines in New York City. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in literature from Temple University.