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The Sunshine Vitamin May Relieve Sunburn

Forget your sunscreen and feeling the burn? Getting out of the sun and applying ice packs should be your next course of action. And now, there may be even more you can do: preliminary research has found that a high dose of vitamin D3 may provide sunburn relief. Published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, the double-blind study used a full spectrum lamp to replicate natural sunlight and induce sunburn on the inner arms of 20 participants. One hour later, participants randomly received one of four treatments: 50,000 IU, 100,000 IU, or 200,000 IU of vitamin D3, or a placebo. When researchers followed-up on the participants’ sunburn symptoms at 24, 48, 72 hours and 1 week, and tested skin and blood samples, they found:

  • Less tissue damage was seen in samples of sunburned skin as the dose of vitamin D3 increased.
  • Participants who received the highest dose of vitamin D3 had significantly lower levels of inflammatory markers in their skin after 48 hours compared with those who received the placebo.
  • Participants with higher blood levels of vitamin D3 after treatment had less skin redness and increased gene activity associated with skin repair than those with lower blood levels of vitamin D3.
  • Vitamin D3 may have increased the activity of arginase-1—an anti-inflammatory enzyme which has been shown to enhance tissue repair.

While these are fascinating findings, and more research into vitamin D3’s sun-protective effects is warranted, it’s important to know that the amounts of vitamin D3 prescribed in this study are well above the recommended daily allowance of 600 IU per day until age 70 and 800 IU per day after age 70. While scientists are still learning about optimal vitamin D intake, ensuring that you have sufficient vitamin D levels is always a good idea. And developing safe sun habits—like always applying sunscreen as directed and wearing broad-spectrum sunglasses—will help safeguard you from sunburn in the first place.

Source: The Journal of Investigative Dermatology

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