In the 20th century, the most devastating disease of the Industrial Revolution emerged in Northern Europe and America: taking many lives and affecting more than 80 percent of young children who worked in cramped, poor, dark conditions. – They called it rickets.
This skeletal disease (which scientists eventually linked to severe Vitamin D deficiencies), inspired an all-out Vitamin D revolution!
Finding that exposure to ultraviolet radiation or sunlight treated and prevented rickets, affected countries practiced Vitamin D fortification in a variety of foods, as well as encouraging regular sunlight and the widespread use of cod liver oil. Thanks to Vitamin D, rickets was no longer a significant health problem by the late 1930s.
But who’s affected today?
Despite efforts to fortify foods and drinks with vitamin D, it’s presently estimated that over a billion people worldwide are Vitamin D deficient. A recent survey showed that over 85% of adults in America and about 1 in 6 people in the UK had a severe vitamin D deficiency.
Additionally, it’s been shown that darker-skinned people (African, African-Caribbean Indians, and South Asian origin), are more at risk for vitamin D deficiencies.
A study comparing more than 2,000 black and white adults, found that African Americans typically had lower levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D in their blood. In the UK, it’s estimated that about 9 in 10 adults of South Asian origin may be vitamin D-deficient.
One reason for this is that darker skin isn’t able to produce as much Vitamin-D compared to lighter skinned people with less pigments.
We all need more vitamin D!
This shouldn’t really be news to us: we spend a lot of time indoors, wear sunscreen when the sun does happen to be out, and most of us live in countries where 6 months out of the year we’re lucky to catch a couple of rays.
However, vitamin D has been shown to be extremely important when it comes to faster eczema healing.
An experiment done in 2012 gave patients either 1600 IU of vitamin D or a placebo daily. At the end of 60 days researchers compared the results and found that the vitamin D group showed more improvements in eczema symptoms than those in the placebo group.
In a 2013 study in Poland, adults with low levels of vitamin D took 2,000 IU daily for 3 months in wintertime. The researchers compared the before and after symptoms and found that:
People with the lowest Vitamin D levels had more skin infections.
After supplementing, the eczema symptoms and severity was lower.
People taking vitamin D supplements had significant improvement.
Additionally, other research shows that a sample of patients who received 4,000 IU daily for ONLY 21 days had significant eczema improvement.
A 2012 study in Australia looked at mothers with their newborns. The vitamin D levels in both were studied and researchers discovered that those who developed eczema in the first year were also those who had the lowest vitamin D levels at birth.
Another experiment published in 2008 gave eleven children 1000 IU of vitamin D for 1 month. At the end of the period they found that the symptoms and severity of eczema improved in 80% of children taking vitamin D.
How can vitamin D3 quicken eczema healing?
• Vitamin D works in your immune system and your skin.
There are vitamin D receptors found on the cells of your immune system as well as your skin. Vitamin D binds to these receptors and works in the immune system by reducing levels of inflammatory proteins. At the same time, it also increases amounts of good antimicrobial proteins in the skin, which help by destroying invading germs and viruses.
Scientists found that this unique combination of lowering inflammation and increasing antimicrobial defenses, helps your immune system fight infections better! This means that if you’re struggling with eczema, having adequate vitamin D can help your skin to fight infections, lower inflammation, and repair faster.
• Vitamin D has been demonstrated to have a beneficial effect on the permeability barrier in the epidermis.
The epidermis is the outermost layer of your skin, and is meant to protect you against germs, viruses, pollutions and even strong chemicals in soaps or products.
However, it’s been shown that people suffering from eczema tend to have epidermal dsyfunction, making your skin more susceptible to outside bacteria and strong substances. This is how some eczema can be triggered by perfumes or harsh weather like winter eczema.
Vitamin D helps our skin, as it strengthens your skin barriers. This means that having adequate vitamin D can help with the overall healing of the outer epidermis of your skin.
• Vitamin D has been shown to increase synthesis of PDGF: promoting wound healing.
In the case of skin, this means that any wounds or eczema you have, heals faster when you have adequate amounts of vitamin D, as it promotes proper tissue repair and improves wound healing.
There are many people who eat healthy, but are still extremely vitamin D deficient. In this case, even a healthy diet might not be enough to help their eczema heal completely, as they are still missing the vitamin that helps with wound healing.
If your eczema isn’t healing as fast as you would like, then getting vitamin D can definitely help improve your condition and speed up the process!
How much vitamin D3 should people with eczema take?
Ahhh…This is where it gets a bit complicated as currently, there’s still a lot of debate on what the proper amount should be.
Basically, you need to get enough vitamin D to raise your body’s natural serum levels to an adequate level. However, there is an ongoing debate in the medical field on how much you should take to reach that adequate level.
One of the first recommendations was for 1000-2000 IU daily, however recent research is showing that this number is nowhere near the amount we should be taking. Additionally, studies show that adults receive optimal benefits from taking up to 8,000 IU a day.
If you want to take a guess I would suggest starting at 2,000-5,000 IU daily, as it’s been shown that taking up to 10,000 IU a day has no side effects.
However, in some people this might not be enough. The only way to know for sure how much Vitamin D you should be taking, is to get your blood levels tested by a doctor. Only he or she will be able to tell you for certain.
How to get Vitamin D3!
Once you’ve gotten your levels checked (and for the sake of your eczema, do it soon!), it’s time to get some vitamin D to help your skin heal faster!
1) The sunshine
Of course, sunlight is the safest and best way to get vitamin D, as your body only naturally converts what it needs. That means that you don’t have to worry about overdoing on Vitamin D when you’re in the sun! 😀
For a fair-skinned person, it is estimated that around 20-30 minutes of direct sunlight on the face and forearms around the middle of the day (noon – 2pm), about 2-3 times a week is sufficient to make enough D3.
However keep in mind that this is in the summer months. In spring, autumn, or winter time, you may have to do more.
For people with darker skin, the amount of time needed exposed to sunlight can be much more than this!
If you have darker skin, that means you produce less vitamin D and are at higher risks for deficiencies. In this case, you might want to consider staying out for up to 90 minutes. This is especially the case if your eczema is really bad.
2) Vitamin D3 supplements:
It’s not as efficient as the sunshine, but it’s definitely better than no Vitamin D at all! Just make sure that you’re getting Vitamin D3 (not D2!), as this has been shown to have the most benefits.
Personally, I take the 5,000 IU one, especially during the winter time when I can’t get much sun. If you want to start at a lower amount, check out the second link.
Vitamin D3 5,000 IU from NOW foods. 240 Softgels.
Vitamin D3 2,000 IU in organic olive oil. 360 softgels.
3) Cod Liver Oil
Cod liver oil was used in the 20th century against rickets, as it packs a whopping 1,360 IU of vitamin D per tablespoon! However, just be careful about what kind of cod liver oil you buy, as most commercial fishing get the fish from polluted waters.
Below is one I recommend, as it doesn’t taste so fishy. If you’re buying from a supermarket or health store, make sure you get an organic cod liver oil or one that gets tested regularly against metals and pollution.
Norwegian lightly lemon cod liver oil: fortified with vitamin E, regularly tested for purity.
In short: Vitamin D3 is important in eczema treatment.
Vitamin D deficiencies shouldn’t be ignored or taken lightly, as inadequate Vitamin D3 could slow down your overall eczema-healing process.
I’m of the darker-skinned origin (those at higher risk for deficiencies), and I did notice that my skin was at its best when I would expose it to daily sunlight. I remember spending over an hour each day soaking in the Vitamin-D!
If you’re doing the 30-day reset, I highly recommend that you get your blood levels tested and take a Vitamin D supplement to speed up your eczema healing! Even if you’re a healthy person, you can still be deficient: especially if you live in a climate where there’s not much sun.
I’m confident it can help you or your young one get better results! 😀
Do you have eczema? Are you receiving adequate amounts of Vitamin D3? Have you seen the results on your skin? Let me know in the comments below! Also, don’t forget to share this post with a friend or someone who needs it.
PS: Don't know where to start? Sign up to my free series The Clear Skin Plan !
Srikanth (SG) says
I am a 33 year old (Male) and I am having severe skin eczema and it has disturbed my sleep completely for past one year. It itches like hell. I just came across this Vit D3 deficieny and I was surprised to find lot of comments stating that eczema is related to Vit D3 deficiency. I am from India.
I did my D3 test last month and I found that it was 5.73 (normal range >30). I started taking Vit D3 supplement tablets today (5000 ui). Kindly advise if this is sufficient or too high.
Hi Srikanth, it’s great that you got your levels tested and are taking a supplement. Getting adequate Vitamin D-3 is really important for eczema! I suggest starting with the dose you have, and later check back with your doctor to see if you should adjust. Only they will be able to tell you for certain.
Hi,Christina today vitamin d3 result is 17.6 please your advice
Hello Christina, Thank you so much for this website, it is tremendously useful as I combat eczema on my 2 kids.
Question on dosage on vitamins – how much (Vitamin D3, Fish oil, etc) would you recommend for kids ages 5 and 5? Or where can I get this information? Not the standard dose but to combat eczema.
Hi Farah, I cannot know for certain, as it depends on their D-levels. You can find this out via a Vitamin-D test with your doctor. That being said, children tend to best absorb Vitamin D3 from food and sunlight. Being in the sunshine and taking a cod liver oil supplement would really help. That’s my best recommendation!
I have been reading quite a lot about vitamin D3 recently, and it appears that it is best taken along with vitamin K2 – MK7 as taken on its own, the extra calcium is fixed on your ateries and not on your bones. The K2 enable to fix this at the right place.
I hope it can help some people! (you don’t want to be a coral inside….)
I have moderate to severe eczema for 8 years but I do have it since I was a baby. Going dairy free and gluten free is not enough. I read an article about the effects of Vitamin D deficiency with heart attack patients and stumbled upon its effects on immune system. Then it occurred to me to ask my primary physician for Vitamin D blood test with my other annual PE labwork. True enough it was really low, 18 (30-50). My doctor prescribed me 50,000 IU once a week for 3 months and repeat test showed my Vit D level went up to 33. I also noticed my eczema doesn’t flare up as much. Now I take 2000 IU daily for maintenance per my doctor’s approval.
Hi thanks for sharing your experience. It’s good to hear that Vit-D could help!
I didn’t know that what I had when I was a kid was eczema and it was gone for a bit of a long time and flared up just more or less late last year. I had a check up with a dermatologist but told me that food intake has nothing to do with it. It got better for only sometime then went back and on. It was only a temporary relief that I had and after applying steroid cream for some time what the doctor gave me it flared up and spread below my toes and started a bit above my ankle. I was feeling low and bothered so much about it that I keep waking up in my sleep. I keep on researching until I stumbled your article. The thing is, I’m not sure where I can ask to have D deficiency test. Is it ok if I was to try to buy 5000 IU D3 to start off? I prayed for what to do about my eczema and that this isn’t an accident that I encountered your article but the answer to my dilemma. Hope to hear from you.
Hi Sou! I’m sorry I cannot know if 5000 IU is good or not because it really depends on the person’s Vit-D levels. Usually you can ask your doctor about a test to be certain. (you can also increase Vit-D naturally like the other ways I mention in the article.)
I have eczema on my feet and ankles, I take 5000ius of D3 daily which has helped. But now I’m also applying it topically and it’s almost completely cleared up. Just an FYI for eczema sufferers.?
Hi Amy, Do you have an oil with VIT D3 which you are applying topically? What exactly are you putting on your skin?
Thanks for sharing you’re experience
Michael C says
Hi and thanks for this information. Case formulation. I’m 47 and have literally suffered from eczema from day one. I spent enough time in hospitals and missed so much school that I was held back in the third day. Dermatology seemed rather primitive at that time as oral steroid and body wraps were basically the treatment. In recent years, eczema has been severe, to the point of multiple skin infections requiring antibiotics, oral steroids, injected steroids, and steroid creams. My body seems to have been in a state of constant inflammation. After realizing that my skin completely heals after a day at the beach, I began doing some research to connect the dots. How is it that my skin, refractory to steroid creams, heal after a day at the beach? My research has led me to vitamins, more specifically vitamin D. I started taking 2000-3000 iu of D3 daily without much noticing improvement. I bumped it up to 15000 iu and within a week, I was about 95% clear and using a very very small dose of steroid cream. I backed down to 10000iu daily and am able to maintain, though 15000 may keep me clear. In addition, I take 400 iu vitamin E daily, multivitamin with dha Omega 3, B vitamins, and flaxseed oil, 1200 bid. The inflammation has for the most part ceased and glands have reduced. I decided to experiment with the vitamin D and reduced to 5000 iu daily for about a week. Durning that week, I experienced a flare up. I quickly resumed 10000 daily, where I’m at now, and found that the flare up subsided. Dermatology today is about the same as it was when I was a kid. I went to a very experienced and well known dermatologist in this area about 6-7 years ago. His words were that there wasn’t much other than steroids and antibiotics that could be done. UV light could be an answer for the natural vitamin D, but at the risk of skin cancer. The combination of vitamins I’m taking as well as my faith have finally given me relief from the itching and wounds I’ve experienced over 47 years. In closing, I think everything you said in this article is spot on. Thank you for writing this.