November 04, 2020
Children with severe eczema may find better relief from their symptoms by supplementing their standard treatment with vitamin D, a new study finds.
While previous research has shown that adding vitamin D supplementation to standard care lessens symptoms in mild to moderate eczema, this is the first to confirm similar results in more severe cases.
Children with eczema suffer from itchy, dry skin. The most common treatments are steroid creams and ointments, oral corticosteroids and sometimes antibiotics to help reduce inflammation.
The study's findings, published in the journal Pharmacology Research & Perspectives, show that adding a daily, oral vitamin D supplement to standard care for 12 weeks led to a significantly reduced eczema areas compared to participants who were given a placebo along with standard care.
Of course, the importance of vitamin D to people's health is no secret. Proper levels are important for strong bones as well as cell growth and brain health.
A vitamin D deficiency is thought to increase risk for osteoporosis, heart disease, certain cancers, multiple sclerosis and dementia. It has also been linked to an increased risk for the development of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in children.
The body creates vitamin D from direct sunlight on the skin. People also get it from certain foods, like oily fish — think salmon, mackerel and sardines — as well as red meat, eggs and fortified breakfast cereals.
For people who can't get enough vitamin D naturally, or those who have a medical condition that interferes with its absorption into the body, supplementation can boost their natural levels.
It isn't always clear who would benefit the most from a vitamin D supplement. Some studies show that for certain health issues, it doesn't offer any significant benefits.
One recent study found that vitamin D supplements don't offer any protective effect against depression. The findings of another study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggest it doesn't significantly reduce the risk of cancer or cancer mortality either.
While there is strong evidence that vitamin D supplementation can improve bone health, its impact on other health conditions is still not completely clear, Harvard Health experts say.
Another concern is that too much vitamin D can actually be dangerous to your health. The recommended daily amount of vitamin D is 400 international units for children up to age 12 months, 600 IU for ages 1 to 70 years, and 800 IU for people over 70 years, according to the Mayo Clinic.
The bottom line is that people should talk to their health care providers about all the risks and benefits of vitamin D supplementation before taking it. And if they decide to start it, they should watch the dosage carefully.