This Is What You Need To Know About Vitamin D’s Effect On Skin

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Vitamin D, the happy sunshine vitamin! It also happens to be the vitamin many Americans are deficient in. Let’s dive into Vitamin D’s effect on skin.

I’ve been fascinated with Vitamin D ever since finding it helped with my hormonal acne. Unfortunately, good old Vitamin D isn’t always prescribed or levels checked when it comes to skin issues. The reasoning I’ve found in my research comes down to there not being enough scientific evidence. We’re still trying to fully understand the effects Vitamin D has on our bodies. Fair enough. Let’s get a little nerdy, k?


The first thing to know is there are 2 types of Vitamin D: D2 and D3

Vitamin D2  (ergocalciferol) is found in food. Sources include fortified milk, herring, mackerel, tuna, salmon, sardines, eggs, fortified cereals, and baked goods.

Vitamin D3  (cholecalciferol) is a prohormone produced in the skin when exposed to UVB rays, animal products, and fortified foods. D3 can be produced photochemically from sun exposure or obtained by consuming fish oil or foods such as eggs and oily fish. For most of us, we’re likely not consuming enough through diet alone to meet our bodies needs.


What your skin does with D3 is pretty cool…

The skin is your largest organ, creating and regulating D3 when absorbing enough UVB rays–the rays your SPF is designed to protect you from. Your skin converts D3 into a hormone. As we age, our skin’s ability to produce D3 declines. This is why Vitamin D effects our skin. If you have hormonal imbalances you can see how a lack of D3 could potentially play a part in wreaking havoc on your skin and body, like acne. Or how it could even play a potential role in aging. Our bodies function as a system.

Vitamin D3 has been found to aid in the treatment of psoriasis and prevention/treatment of other inflammatory skin diseases like acne, dermatitis/eczema, and sebaceous cysts. Other potential benefits include wound healing (like acne scarring) and restoring the epidermal barrier (your skin’s ability to retain water and block irritants with a healthy skin barrier).


This is the effect I noticed Vitamin D had on my clients’ skin when they supplemented for their deficiency. A few key changes with profound improvements occurred for each individual. Results varied from person to person but included:

  • MOOD!! A natural happy pill, anyone???
  • Acne was greatly improved; particularly pesky hormonal breakouts
  • Sensitivities, irritations, and inflammatory reactions were reduced… including weird, seemingly unexplainable reactions improved or went away
  • Fine lines and wrinkles were less noticeable
  • Pore size shrinking, skin appeared more healthy and vibrant


You may potentially be Vitamin D deficient, and experience its effects on your skin, if…

  • If you wear SPF, your skin can’t produce enough Vitamin D
  • If you’re of a darker complexion your skin won’t create D3 as quickly as fair skin
  • The more skin you expose the more Vitamin D your skin produces–but your legs and arms are the most important areas to expose

If you avoid the sun like the plague, are really good about applying sunscreen, or spend the majority of the day indoors (not counting early morning/evening), there’s a good chance you’re Vitamin D deficient. Always, always, always check with a doc before self-diagnosing. Getting bloodwork done is your safest option.

While I’m certified crazy about wearing SPF, I’ll occasionally spend some time in the sun without sunscreen during a time of day I know I’ll receive sufficient amounts of Vitamin D. Although due to my habits, I know that’s not enough for myself, so I take a good quality supplement daily.


Specific recommendations on how much time to spend outside for optimal Vitamin D obsorption isn’t easy because our skin’s genetic and chemical make up are all so different.

To help you navigate your unique needs, I’ll leave you with a quote from the Vitamin D Council. This is based on your geographic location and Fitzpatrick skin type.

-At noon in Miami, an individual with skin type III would probably need about 6 minutes of exposure to the sun to make 1,000 IU of vitamin D in summer and 15 minutes in winter.
-Someone with skin type V would probably need around 15 minutes in summer and 30 minutes in winter.
-At noon in Boston during summer, an individual with skin type III would probably need about 1 hour of exposure to the sun to make 1,000 IU of vitamin D.
-Someone with skin type V would probably need about 2 hours of exposure.
-During the winter months in Boston, it’s not possible for anyone to make vitamin D from the sun, no matter their skin type.


References can be found hereherehere, and here.

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About Sarah Nicole

Sarah is a Denver based expert esthetician, known for returning abused sensitive skin back to a glowing state without harsh products while boosting her client's skin confidence and self-worth. Sarah has been featured in Allure, New Beauty, Greatist, NBC News, and D Magazine among others. You can follow her on Instagram @sarahnpayne.

3 thoughts on “This Is What You Need To Know About Vitamin D’s Effect On Skin

  1. Vitamin D is also thought to help with fine lines and wrinkles – mostly through its ability to act as an antioxidant. This helps the body to fight off free-radicals which are thought to cause lines on our skin and the general deterioration that comes as we get older. Great article by the way, very informative. Thanks!

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