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2014-11-28

Vitamin D for Winter-Related Eczema

In children at risk of vitamin D deficiency, a new study has shown that supplementation improves winter-related atopic dermatitis (AD, more commonly known as eczema)  and could provide a safe alternative to UV light treatment.

“Our randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of children with winter-related AD found that oral vitamin D3 supplementation with 1000 IU daily for one month led to clinically and statistically significant improvements in AD,” wrote the scientists.

The lead researcher attributed this effect to vitamin D's immune boosting properties. AD is an inflammatory disorder of the skinthat mostly affects children and is often worse in the winter. For decades, this seasonality has been attributed to factors such as ambient humidity. Severe cases are treated with UV light in a controlled setting and the potential role of vitamin D has been largely ignored. About 8 years ago, it was hypothesised that part of the benefit of UV light exposure could be due to improved vitamin D production and that oral supplementation might work just as well.

The researchers found preliminary support for this theory in a small pilot study involving 11 children. Now, the positive results from this latest study on more than 100 children adds stronger proof.

These children (mean age of nine) were randomly assigned either 1000 IU/day orally of vitamin D3 or placebo for one month. The vitamin D group a significant improvement in all measures.

“These findings build on our 2008 publication showing similar results in 11 Boston children,” wrote the researchers. The latitude of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia (where this study was conducted) is comparable to that of Montreal and Paris, and many North American and European cities are located at even higher latitudes. These populations may include many vitamin D deficient individuals.

The researchers say that oral vitamin D supplementation may safely improve signs and symptoms of AD without exposure to potentially harmful UV radiation.

Clinically, I've had success with even just topical application of D3. I just recommended an oil-based liquid product and instructed the parents to rub a couple drops into the affected areas. Regardless, we're well into the time of year where we're not making vitamin D from sun exposure (in the Northern Hemisphere), so if you haven't started your D3 supplementation, I'd highly recommend you get on it!

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Source: Randomized trial of vitamin D supplementation for winter-related atopic dermatitis in children

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