Originally published October 9 2010
Treat Rosacea: New Research Sheds Light on Possible Role of Vitamin D
by Andrew Kim
(NaturalNews) Rosacea is a disease that has been hiding in plain sight. Over 16 million Americans are affected, yet many more are undiagnosed, and the details of its pathophysiology are not very well understood or studied. Various factors are implicated (but far from substantiated) as triggers. New research sheds light on the possible role of vitamin D in the treatment of rosacea.
Rosacea is a condition that is driven by inflammation. Inflammation, from various sources causes abnormal vascularization, vasodilatation, improper skin repair, and other symptoms associated with the disorder.*
Therefore, identifying and avoiding triggers, reducing the severity of episodes, and stopping the progression of inflammation are the most important factors of a multi-pronged approach for treating this complex disorder.
Much research has focused on cathelicidin, one of the most well studied anti-microbial peptide (AMP) that seems to play a central role in rosacea's pathology. The innate immune system normally produces low levels of these AMPs on the skin. Rosacea sufferers have abnormal and excessive cathelicidin production.
Normalizing cathelicidin AMP (camp) production and maintaining healthy skin barrier may be the key to balancing this inflammatory based skin disorder. When not enough camps are produced, the skin is more susceptible to infections and subsequent inflammatory immune response. However, if camps are over produced, or if the skin barrier is weak or abnormal, immune system flare ups follow through various mechanisms.
Vitamin D may benefit rosacea in several ways. For one, vitamin D is essential for normal skin cell production, function, and anti-infective barrier formation. Secondly, numerous studies report vitamin D's immune system modulating activity by enhancing T cells with regulatory and suppressing activity. Thirdly, vitamin D modulates the effects of cathelicidin.
The current recommended intake for vitamin D is based on the amount required to prevent bone related disorders like rickets. However, this may be too low to fully activate its immune modulating, skin cell normalizing roles.
Despite the burgeoning research on the link between vitamin D and immune system activity, therapeutic serum levels of vitamin D have not yet been established. In addition, many factors can affect vitamin D conversion, absorption, and utilization. They include:
-Use of pharmaceutical drugs
-Inadequate fat intake/inability to digest fats
-High, chronic stress levels
-Genetic variation in the vitamin D receptor (VDR)**
The Vitamin D Research Council recommends that serum levels should fall between 50-80 ng/ml all year round in order to get vitamin D's full effects. However, with all the variables surrounding the metabolism of vitamin D and the dearth of scientific studies regarding the optimal dosage for rosacea, the best approach is to carefully monitor serum levels and symptoms.
Author's note: Vitamin D should be an adjunct to a functional approach to restoring balance back to the body's immune system and taming inflammation. In order to effectively battle inflammatory based conditions, one must first recognize and eliminate food allergies/sensitivities, heal the intestinal tract, repair/build intestinal flora, reduce stress, stabilize blood sugar issues, and make intelligent use of targeted supplements.
* Other symptoms that can accompany the disease are flushing and blushing in the middle third of the face, papules/pustules (acne), redness in the eyes, stinging sensations, and enlargement of the nose.
** Even if serum vitamin D level is optimal, an individual with VDR polymorphism can exhibit signs and symptoms of vitamin D deficiency.
1."Risk factors associated with rosacea" (Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology, May 2010).
2."More than skin deep" (Dermatology Times, June 2009).
3."Combined effects of silymarin and methylsulfonylmethane in the management of rosacea: clinical and instrumental evaluation" (Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, 2008).
4."The vitamin D pathway: a new target for control of the skin's immune response?" (Experimental Dermatology, June 2008).
5."Induction of tolerogenic dendritic cells by vitamin D receptor agonists" (Handbook of Experimental Pharmacology, 2009).
About the authorAndrew Kim
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