Anyone who has ever had bad sunburn understands the agonizing discomfort associated with too much sun exposure and would probably try just about any tactic to relieve their pain. Now, researchers at Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) School of Medicine and University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center have recently released results from a small double-blinded, placebo-controlled clinical study where participants were given high doses of oral vitamin D one hour after sunburn, which was shown to reduce skin redness, swelling, and inflammation significantly.
Participants who consumed the highest doses of vitamin D had long-lasting benefits—including less skin inflammation 48 hours after the burn. Participants with the highest blood levels of vitamin D also had less skin redness and a jump in gene activity related to skin barrier repair.
"We hypothesize that vitamin D helps promote protective barriers in the skin by rapidly reducing inflammation. What we did not expect was that at a certain dose, vitamin D not only was capable of suppressing inflammation, it was also activating skin repair genes."
While the investigators were excited by their discoveries, they cautioned that the trial tested very high doses of vitamin D that far exceed daily allowances. The FDA's recommended adult daily allowance for vitamin D is only 400 IU. The research team is planning additional studies that could inform treatment plans for burn patients.
"I would not recommend at this moment that people start taking vitamin D after sunburn based on this study alone,” Dr. Lu stressed. “But, the results are promising and worthy of further study."
[The original study can be found here]
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