ASCP Skin Deep


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Page 31 of 76 29 expertadvice FEED YOUR FACE Ray of Sunshine Make sure you're getting enough vitamin D, especially in the dark winter months by Alex Caspero Vitamin D, also known as the sunshine vitamin, is essential for proper function of nearly every tissue in the body, including the brain, heart, muscles, immune system, and skin. However, many of us don't get enough of this essential nutrient. Harvard's School of Public Health reports that an estimated 1 billion people worldwide lack vitamin D because of cloud cover, air pollution, altitude, and location, or they spend too much time indoors. Even under the best environmental conditions, it can be difficult to soak up enough vitamin D from the sun between the months of November and March. As we approach the height of winter, learn more about the role vitamin D plays and find ways to make sure you are getting enough of this essential beauty nutrient. VITAMIN D AND ECZEMA The exact cause of eczema is still unknown, but it seems to be a combination of genetics and environmental exposure. A recent study done on children with eczema and allergies found that those with the lowest vitamin D levels had the most severe symptoms. Other studies show that those with eczema and low levels of vitamin D are more likely to have other skin problems compared to those with eczema and higher levels of vitamin D. While a deficiency isn't likely to cause eczema, ensuring adequate amounts of the vitamin should be part of the overall treatment plan. VITAMIN D AND ACNE While there are several causes of acne, a poor immune system related to low amounts of vitamin D can increase oil production in the skin cells. When these oil-producing cells become clogged, bacteria overgrow and cause blemishes. Vitamin D impacts these cells by producing the proteins cathelicidin and defensin, which have antibacterial properties and can reduce acne flares. Additionally, vitamin D strengthens the immune system, which will also help the body fight acne. VITAMIN D AND PHOTO AGING Photo damage refers to skin damage induced by ultraviolet (UV) light, leading to DNA damage, skin aging, skin cancer, and skin cell death. Some studies show that when vitamin D3 is applied topically to skin, the vitamin D has protective effects, including decreased DNA damage and reduced skin cell death. Skin aging consists of two independent factors: intrinsic skin aging and extrinsic skin aging, the latter being the result of mainly chronic UV exposure along with smoking, pollution, sleep deprivation, and poor nutrition. Adding in dietary antioxidants, such as vitamins A, C, D, and E, has been shown to be protective against photo damage and may even reverse signs of skin damage. BEST FOOD SOURCES Vitamin D doesn't occur naturally in many foods; however, it is found in egg yolks, cheese, and oily fish like salmon, tuna, and mackerel. Other foods are fortified with the vitamin, including orange juice, yogurt, milk, and certain nondairy milks and yogurt. Because this vitamin can be hard to get in the diet, you may want to consider supplements. As vitamin D is stored in body fat and the liver, excess levels can lead to toxicity, so caution should be taken with amounts over 2,000 international units (IUs) daily. For children and adults under 69, the recommended dietary allowance of vitamin D is 600 IUs.

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