(NaturalNews) One of the major drawbacks of winter is the effect cold, dry weather has on your skin. The good news is, research shows that upping your vitamin D intake could actually help mitigate that problem and keep your skin looking and feeling better.
One recent study by the Johnson and Johnson Skin Research Center found a link between low vitamin D levels and drier skin, "which was subsequently ameliorated by topical application of vitamin D," according to a summary.
Researchers conducted an observational study of two groups of 83 and 61 subjects. In the first part of the study, blood serum levels and skin conductance measurements were taken in the group of 83 participants following a one-week washout period.
"Results showed subjects with lower levels of vitamin D had lower average skin moisture," the summary said.
Sound vitamin D levels mean moister skin, less irritation
From that group, a subset of 61 study participants with insufficient vitamin D serum levels were given a topical ointment containing vitamin D. "Results showed increased skin moisture and improved clinical grading of dry skin," said the summary. Overall, the findings "suggest a relationship between vitamin D3 levels and hydration of" skin.
"Some people use vitamin D for skin conditions including vitiligo, scleroderma, psoriasis, actinic keratosis, and lupus vulgaris," added a summary of vitamin D in general from the U.S. National Library of Medicine, a division of the National Institutes of Health.
In fact, a number of studies have shown that vitamin D is very crucial in maintaining the correct balance of tissues present in skin. A lack of balance "can lead to wrinkled and parched skin due to disruption in this balancing phenomenon," writes Pratima Sharma for OnlyMyHealth.com. "The relationship between skin balance and vitamin D is a mutually beneficial one. One is responsible for the other, and vice versa."
The skin consists of a special layer designed to convert ultraviolet B radiation from the sun into vitamin D; a lack of sun can hamper this conversion, and in the winter, when it is much more cloudy, that can have a substantial impact on the dryness of your skin.
"Another smart way of treating vitamin D deficiency is by exposing yourself to the sun, optimally," Sharma says. "You need to consider making the most of the morning sun as much as possible."
Boost your 'D' with diet
That said, she and other experts caution that too much exposure to sunlight can also be harmful. Fortunately, besides taking vitamin D capsules and using topical vitamin D-containing lotions, you can obtain much of the supplement in the foods you eat:
-- Catch a plate of salmon. "In addition to providing more than 100 percent of your vitamin D requirements for the day, this fatty fish is chockfull of omega-3 fatty acids, which can help combat dry skin and hair. Other good fish sources containing vitamin D include sardines, cod liver oil and tuna," writes registered dietician Kristin Kirkpatrick, for the Huffington Post. Eggs also contain a healthy dose of vitamin D.
-- Enjoy a glass of sunshine - orange juice. By starting your day off with an eight-ounce glass of fresh, tangy orange juice you can get about one-third of your daily vitamin D requirement. And here's an additional benefit: You get vitamin C as well, which strengthens collagen, an element that is key to slowing the rate of aging of the skin.
-- Grab a cup of yogurt. A regular helping of this tasty food provides about 20 percent of your daily requirement of vitamin D, and comes with the added benefit of being a probiotic food that adds "good" bacteria to your intestinal tract for better digestion and fewer infections.
-- Healthy whole-grain breakfast. Choosing a healthy, whole-grain breakfast cereal to start your day off right can give you a quarter of the daily vitamin D you need, as well as a good dose of fiber, which can help you maintain a better weight. Check the label before you buy and make sure you're getting a cereal fortified with vitamin D.