To Your Health
April, 2010 (Vol. 04, Issue 04)
In addition to these findings, human studies reveal that folic acid and/or vitamin B6 supplementation has been effective in treating acne vulgaris (which causes the appearance of whiteheads, blackheads and red pimples).
B-complex vitamin supplementation has been used successfully in the treatment of eczema (atopic dermatitis) in conjunction with essential fatty acids and hydrochloric acid supplementation. Some patients with psoriasis respond favorably to supplementation with folic acid and/or vitamin B12
, and patients with seborrheic dermatitis have been shown to improve with supplementation of biotin (a B vitamin), folic acid and/or vitamin B12
. Investigation into this area demonstrates that suboptimal B-vitamin status can give rise to dermatitis (skin inflammation conditions), as well as lack of skin smoothness, seborrheic-type scaly lesions and/or irregular pigmentation.
Certain B vitamins (B6, B2) also participate as co-factors in the synthesis of prostaglandin hormones that, in part, determine the smoothness and texture of the skin. More recently, niacin (vitamin B3) has been shown to help prevent skin damage or photo-aging induced by sunlight (ultraviolet light) by increasing the cellular energy required by skin cells to repair free-radical damage and preserve their immune function. These experiments suggest vitamin B3 supplementation may be an important aspect of preventing cancerous changes to skin cells and is involved in slowing the process of photo-aging of the skin over our lifetime.
Unfortunately, data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey II revealed that as a daily average across the U.S. population, 80 percent of Americansingest less than the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of vitamin B6, 45 percent ingest less than the RDA of vitamin B1, 34 percent ingest less than the RDA of vitamin B2 and vitamin B12, and 33 percent ingest less than the RDA ofvitamin B3. Moreover, the RDA values were not designed to represent optimal intake levels, but rather as levels of intake to guard against overt deficiency states. Thus, the RDAs are by no means the desired level of intake to maximize health and guard against degenerative and age-related diseases.
By all accounts, the daily use of a B-50 complex vitamin may be considered an important strategy to enhance and maintain the healthy appearance of the skin, aid in the treatment of various skin conditions, prevent the development of B-vitamin deficiency states that produce skin lesions and diseases, and help combat the underlying metabolic processes associated with photo-aging of the skin and skin cancer development.
In the case of vitamin D, it has recently been discovered that most skin cells have vitamin D receptors on their surface. Vitamin D is well-known for its positive effects on cellular differentiation (promoting the full maturation of epithelial cells), slowing the rate of epithelial cell division and for its tumor suppressant effects on epithelial cells that express vitamin D receptors. Experimental studies indicate that vitamin D (1,25 dihydroxy vitamin D) can inhibit the growth of some types of melanomas by inducing apoptosis (programmed cell death of cancer cells).
Generally speaking, cells that contain vitamin D receptors are able to produce their own 1,25 dihydroxy vitamin D (the most potent form of vitamin D) from the 25-hydroxy vitamin D, which is made in the liver (25-hydroxy vitamin D is made from the vitamin D synthesized under the skin upon sunlight exposure and the vitamin D consumed from food and supplements). Individuals living in more northerly areas of North America tend to have significantly lower levels of vitamin D in their bloodstream due to insufficient intensity of year-round direct-sunlight exposure to the skin. Thus, vitamin D supplementation is considered to more crucial for North American individuals living above the 40th degree latitude.
Therapeutically, vitamin D supplementation has been shown to be helpful in the treatment of psoriasis. The mechanism of action is thought to involve the slowing of skin cell division, which is otherwise excessive in psoriatic cases. For general health-promotion purposes and to enhance the vitamin D availability to skin cells, 400 IU per day of vitamin D supplementation is regarded as safe and effective. This amount is easily obtained from a respectable multivitamin formula.