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The Benefits of Vitamin D

Firstly, I look forward to co-hosting our "Glow Through the Holidays" event later this month. It will be a fun, informative evening with lots of opportunities for you to ask any questions you may have about your skin and the Eminence products. As for our InnerGlow newsletter, I wanted to focus on the health of the skin on our body, and how it relates to Vitamin D. This time of year, and through the winter months I see many patients that suffer from psoriasis, eczema and dry skin. While there are a number of things we do naturopathically to treat these conditions, I wanted to discuss the importance of Vitamin D.

Vitamin D is often referred to as "the sunshine" vitamin because it requires sun exposure on the skin to be made. In Canada, there is a lack of direct sunlight due to the low angle of the sun, especially during the winter months. It is no secret that November is the darkest month of the year, but in fact, we don't make enough vitamin D from October to April. Unfortunately, only about 1/3 of Canadians have levels in the optimal range. Furthermore, the regular use of sunscreen will reduce your production of vitamin D by 99%. Those with darker skin have more of the pigment melanin, which then further reduces their synthesis of Vitamin D. Age can also play a role with your natural production slowing down past the age of 70. Even the use of some medications can impair production. With all of these factors its no wonder our levels tend to be sub-optimal.

Research shows that vitamin D has many benefits to your health and mood, including helping to prevent chronic disease and many common cancers. More specifically, Vitamin D is an important part of the immune system. This is particularly relevant when it comes to skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis where there can be an issue with the immune system and the skin barrier function. Vitamin D works to reduce the level of inflammation in the skin as well as increasing the amount of antimicrobial proteins, which help to protect you from germs and invading virus. This can even have implications for those with acne where bacteria can drive breakouts.

One thing to note is that Vitamin D can be difficult to get from the diet so many people supplement on a regular basis. However, because vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin it is not easily excreted from the body, meaning taking too much or supplementing when you don't need it can cause it to build up in your body. For this reason, I recommend you get your levels tested before supplementing to get a baseline reading so you know exactly how much to take. I usually suggest doing this around the fall-winter transition, before levels get too low during the winter months. If you are interested in this testing, come in for a chat with one of us about where to start.

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