Skin and Vitamin-D- How to Architect a Radiant and Healthier Skin


Are you surprised that the global skin care market is marked at 148.3 billion US dollars by 2020 and is drifting toward a younger from an older consumer base? It was the old and now the younger generation is using skin care in a bid to postpone their aging. They don’t wait for wrinkles and scars to appear.

No questions asked, more than ever the current world is celebrating the joy and success of having a glowing radiant skin and a celeb look. A glowing skin is an inherent appetite not restricted to celebs but to anyone now. The intertwined relationship of skin and Vitamin-D takes a giant responsibility in this regard.

So the burning question is where and how do you get this precious radiance crowning on your skin and hold on to it as long as possible? Sure enough, you can never stop the natural aging but can stop premature aging thus delaying or postponing the aging.

Overall this article aims at giving you clue about “the how” to age without feeling the impact of aging or related physical conditions. We are not able to stop aging bu at the least we could try to delay it. Here are the sections this blog will cover.

  • Skin Synthesis of Vit-D3 (Vitamin-D3)
  • Why do you need Vit-D3 supplements? What is the best?
  • Sun exposure or Vit-D3 supplements?
  • Manufacture of Vit-D hormone (Calcitriol): The golden nutrient
  • Calcitriol in important skin renewal process
  • Skin aging and prevention
  • Topical application of Vit-D3
  • Gut bacteria and Vit-D3: Key to skin health and beauty

Skin Synthesis of Vit-D3-An Unique Event of Life

As you most probably know, Vitamin-D3 is a hormone not a vitamin. Vit-D3 (Cholecalciferol) synthesis occurs in the outer skin layer by the exposure of your bare skin to sunlight. The UVB part of the solar radiation having a wavelength range of 280-315 nm (optimal at 297 nm) has the effective energy to orchestrate this unique and important effect in mammals having vertebrae. Skin Exposure to Sunlight

In this process, the thermal transformation of 7-dehydrocholesterol present (7-DHC) in the skin undergoes thermolysis to cholecalciferol or Vitamin-D3. The highest concentration of 7-DHC occurs in the stratum basale and stratum spinosium, residing ~0.5 mm depth from the outer skin. This phenomenon does not occur in cats. If you have a cat, you will supply Vitamin-D3 as supplements always.

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for vitamin D is 600 IU (15 mcg) for adults up to age 70 and for older than that, it bumps up to 800 IU (20 mcg) per day considered.

In the most ideal scenario in a clear shiny day, you may be able to get your requirement in few minutes to 1-2 h, doing it 3d/ week. So the obvious question is: why do we need supplements?

Why Do You Need Vitamin-D3 supplements?

  • The desired UVB radiation nourishing us through the production of Vitamin-D3 is not the same everywhere on earth. The latitude where you live on this earth is the fundamental factor that dictates how much light you can be exposed to at what point of time of the month.
  • Air pollution resulting in carbon particles, dust can deflect the radiation, cloudy sky and ozone can absorb the radiation minimizing its impact.
  • The color and age of your skin have a profound influence, with the darker skin working like sunscreen, the older skin absorbing less.
  • Seniors living at home are less likely to get sunlight.
  • Office workers sitting inside their office or cubicle does not get sunlight.
  • When walking outside during lunch break or otherwise they have their body covered.
  • Certain culture wants people to cover their body.
  • It is lack of Vitamin-D3 education in developing countries which can largely contribute to less Vit-D3 productive sun exposure. People expose their body at a time when there is minimum or no UVB radiation, for example, early morning or late afternoon.

Because of these reasons you most likely need supplements to nourish the body.

What are the supplements and which one is the best?

While the sun is the major source to produce vitamin-D3, some food with rich Vit-D3 content which potentially could supply a healthy dose of the daily supplement is wild coho salmon (100 g), Herring (100 g), and cod liver oil (1-2 tablespoons). In Vit-D2 series, the big name is maitake mushroom having 786 IU of Vit-D2 (1 cup, 70 g, diced).

Synthetic Vit-D3 and Vit-D2 in various forms are available as OTC and as prescription medications.
The dose of Vit-D3 is twice more effective than the same dose of Vit-D2 and is better for biological action. FDA is yet to determine the conversion of D3 to D2. A dose of Vit-D3 is twice more effective than the same dose of Vit-D2 and is better for biological action. FDA is yet to determine the conversion of D3 to D2. Using Vit-3 supplements work better in the body.

The best vitamin-D3 supplement per product review.com is Kirkland Signature Vitamin-D3 supplements.

Sun Exposure or Vitamin-D3 supplement?

Are you at a dilemma? A skin lover which most of us are will opt for supplements either as capsule, liquid or gel cap from OTC vs. sun exposing the skin which may lead to skin cancer, sunburn and impacting your skin. But research shows Sunlight –Skin mediated Vit-D3 synthesis does not seem to be an option. Here is why.

Current research alludes to Vitamin-D3 supplements do not affect the bone strength and found to have no meaningful effect with regard to reducing any fracture, hip fractures or falls. So use sunlight to your advantage but prevent your body rest of the time.

According to researcher Richard Weller:

“We suspect that the benefits to heart health of sunlight will outweigh the risk of skin cancer. The work we have done provides a mechanism that might account for this, and also explains why dietary vitamin D supplements alone will not be able to compensate for lack of sunlight.”

Per Dr. Mercola’s newsletter on sun exposure “Most people have heard of the studies that connect sun exposure to skin cancer. But there are many studies that suggest sun exposure (and maximizing vitamin D levels) plays a role in decreasing risks of at least 16 different types of cancer including lung, pancreatic, breast, ovarian, prostate, and colon cancers.”Sun exposure is vital to life and one should use “healthy sunbathing” tips. Do not let your skin burn.

You can never be overdosed with Vit-D3 containing food. So along 15-20 min of sun exposure would suffice if you think of the overall benefit to your health and skin.

Here is a great alternative to natural sunlight providing Vit-D3. Made by Sperti, the only FDA recognized Vit-D lightbox, where the fluorescent sunlamp produces high-intensity ultraviolet-B (UVB) rays that trigger vitamin D production in the skin is a good option for some people.

This is what Michael Hollick, M.D., Ph.D., of Boston University, a noted vitamin D researcher talks about a healthy dose of Vitamin-D. He has reported that “the Sperti lamp increases or maintains D levels in healthy people with fair skin as well as those with oral absorption problems, like those that occur in inflammatory bowel disease and cystic fibrosis”.

Bottom line: Use naturally occurring sunlight to your advantage making Vit-D3 to take care of bone health and other diseases including several cancers as outlined above. But sunlight is not available everywhere all the time, supplements and light-triggered Vitamin-D could be used as an option.

Now you know some reasons, how you could be D-deficient and hopefully addressed the issue by using Vitamin-D3, D2, and food supplements as well. But this is only the beginning of the process.

Vitamin-D3 and D2, both are inactive in the body and need enzyme-mediated biochemical activation for performance.

Manufacture of Vit-D Hormone: The Golden Micronutrient

Vitamin-D3 gets metabolized to the 1, 25-hydroxy Vitamin-D3 (Calcitriol, the hormone form of Vitamin-D3) responsible for carrying out a myriad of functions. Skin Synthesis of Vitamin-D3 Hormone

The inactive Vitamin-D3 (Cholecalciferol) and Vitamin-D2 (Ergocalciferol), made in the skin and coming from food or supplements respectively is translocated into the dermal capillaries and enters to the circulation via binding to the serum Vitamin-D binding protein (VDP) and moves to between skin, liver, and several other tissues.

In liver, enzymatic hydroxylation of Vitamin-D3 with enzyme alpha-hydroxylase metabolizes Vitamin-D3 to the 25-hydroxy Vitamin-D3. This is the predominant circulating form that can be measured to know the nutrient status of Vitamin-D in the body. This also is a biologically inactive species and gets stored until the body needs it. When your doctor talks about your Vit-D level, basically they tell you about this form.

As per requirements of the body, it is transported to the kidney and 2nd hydroxylation occurs at C1 position generating Calcitriol (1, 25-dihydroxy Vitamin-D) the pivotal Vitamin-D hormone. So for an optimal biochemical transformation of Vitamin-D3 to its hormone form, your liver and kidney also need to be in good health.

You are getting adequate sun exposure, swallowing Vit-D3 supplements such as fish oil or having your daily salmon and still tested vitamin-D deficient. That means your test for 25-hydroxy Vitamin-D (that determines your Vitamin-D nutrition status) is not up to the mark. That turns out to the fact that, the inactive Vitamin-D3 is sitting lazily.

What is Magnesium Doing in Vit-D3-Hormone Synthesis?

Research has established Vit-D3 needs activation by Magnesium to convert to hormone form, Calcitriol. Magnesium helps optimal use of Vitamin-D3 to curb D-deficiency. Magnesium deficiency impedes skin renewal and impacts the skin beauty

Empowered Calcitriol in Important Skin Renewal Process

Calcitriol, the hormone is also synthesized locally in the keratinocytes situated in the epidermis of the skin that occupies 95% of the total skin. This is the active form which contributes to cell growth, repair, and metabolism. It augments the immune system of the skin. It regulates epidermal proliferation, differentiation, and exfoliation.Skin Renewal

Calcitriol is attached to the specific Vitamin-D receptor and enters to the nucleus where it undergoes proteins that with another retinoid receptor. This composite binds to Vitamin-D responsive elements (VDRE) that regulate genes which encodes proteins that mediate the effect of Vitamin-D-hormone [7].

One of these effects is influencing the proliferation and differentiation of Keratinocytes. Cells in the basal layer which are undifferentiated keratinocytes of the skin are constantly proliferating and preparing for production of new cells for the epidermis. They start differentiating once they leave the basale and eventually cornification occurs maturing these cells. They replace the outer layer and older cells are detached. The process is called exfoliation. Skin renewal occurs naturally and the turnaround time is ~4 weeks for adults and less for infants and longer for the older population.

Calcitriol with its associated VDR and co-regulators regulates this cell renewal process and renewing skin timely. About one-third of the human genes are occupied with Vit-D3 receptors. Aside from cell renewal, this vital micronutrient at its optimal level prevents a plethora of skin and overall health-related symptoms.

All these processes will not occur at their full capacity in the absence of sufficient Vitamin-D3. In other words, the deficiency of Vitamin-D is revealed on the skin and other organs of the body impacting your skin and overall health. Few of the consequences are:

  • Vitamin-D hormone (calcitriol) helps cell proliferation, growth and skin renewal. Deficiency of Vitamin-D (Vit-D) debilitates the skin renewal process.
  • Calcitriol helps the absorption of calcium, necessary for bone health. Deficiency of Vit-D3 will compromise this important process resulting in softer bones.

As you grow old the Vit-D3 synthesis and renewal happen less efficiently. There are other factors responsible for skin aging as well.

How do we delay or postpone these undesired processes? Let’s go through the skin aging process.

Skin Aging and Prevention

The association of wrinkles and fine lines on your skin is the current running definition of aging. Wrinkles are caused by prolonged sun exposure of the skin which is the major source of Vit-D3. Both UVA and UVB of the solar radiation impact your skin. While UVB damages the skin physically giving you sunburn, UVA rays pierce the skin. UVA rays increase the carcinogenic effect of UVB and they are being seen as the cause of skin cancer.

As the high energy radiation hit the skin, the skin cells snatch to some energy for equilibrium as the law of nature. Imagine this situation as mixing hot and cold water. The heat gets harmonized. Similarly, the collagen fibers which are like small rubber bands get injured by snatching sun’s energy and they get expanded out. That results in scarring of the tissue leaving the smooth skin to retract and form wrinkles. As you age, the older arteries prevent nourishment to the skin which gets wrinkled as well.

While most of the skin damages happen before twenty, it takes about 30 years to show up and you see them in your fifties. It is wise to protect your body from the sun when you are young per Michael F. Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet C. Oz, M.D. in their book “An Insider’s Guide to the Body That Will Make You Healthier and Younger”.

“Prevention is better than cure”: Avoid Non-Essential Sun Exposure

  • Use of Vitamin-D supplements, both tablets, and solution in oil
  • Dietary options including Vit-D3 enriched food and food rich in anti-oxidants.
  • Use Sun protective apparels when not taking the Vit-D3 sunbath.
  • Protecting your skin from with a 4 or more start UVA blocker and on SPF 45 on all exposed spots all the time is recommended to keep your skin safe from sunlight related aging. There are  nonchemical essential oils worth looking at as sun blockers.
  • Another option is applying Vit-D3 topically thus avoiding sun exposure which we will cover in the following section.

Vitamin-D-hormone is known to act against free radicals. It improves skin health by protecting neurons from free radicals.

These are some of your tips for “how to age without feeling the impact of aging or related physical conditions”.

Use D-minder app to track Vit-D3. It Uses the GPS in your phone to find where you are on earth, amount of Vit-D3 you can make and gives you a time as a free version [8]. The paid version can manage history and have the app estimate Vit-D3 level as well.

Topical Application of Vitamin-D3

Numerous skin problems can reveal your Vit-D deficiency. The major ones are acne, psoriasis and eczema, and benign white spots on your skin.

Can you rub vitamin-D3 topically for treatment? Here are some recent results.

In a very recent clinical study [ published June 28, 2018] involving 345 patients, using Vitamin-D3 topically (TOP-D ) and regularly for 4 months reached a threshold of >30 ng/ mL which were considered normal in that study. The control group used 1 g of Aloe Vera gels while the study group used 1g consisting of 5000IU of Vitamin-D3 gel.Topical Application of Vitamin-D3

TOP-D was made using proniosomal technology that made a gel of 3.84 ± 0.35 micron where the pore size of the skin is 50 microns. So the absorption can occur without difficulty.

Vitamin D can be safely and effectively absorbed through the skin- A new study published in International Journal of Biomedical Science.

For all these symptoms like psoriasis, acne, eczema and benign white spots, consult with your physician before using Vitamin-D3 on the skin.

Gut Bacteria and Vit-D: Key to Skin Health and Beauty

We understand that it does not matter how healthy is your diet, without absorption, there will be no effect on your health, let alone the skin. Rather, you get sick.

Vitamin-D performs several of its functions through gut bacteria. The gut bacteria normally produce skin-healthy vitamins and help absorption of nutrients. The healthy bacterial assembly plays a role in protecting the skin from UV damage.

Ongoing research on this important skin-microbiome from UCLA School of medicine in 2017 presented an important finding: “the presence and absence of an important bacterial strain (P.acne) is an important factor in acne development and skin health”.

“The gut-brain-skin relationship is the soul of radiant skin”, says Whitney Bowe, MD., dermatologist and research scientist in her recent book (April 2018) “The Beauty of Dirty Skin”. Current research alludes to a connection of gut bacteria with Vitamin-D.

“The changes in the microbiota might affect how much vitamin D a person can metabolize, or how the body metabolizes vitamin D, so there are implications, but it’s still early and that remains to be seen,” said Cantorna.

In a study (2013, University of California, San Diego) it turned out that the gut microbiomes reside all the way to the subcutaneous layer. Gut-Skin-Vitamin-D are related offering you the best skin health in an ideal situation.

Based on the research the skin health and beauty is connected intimately with gut-bacteria and Vitamin-D performs multiple tasks through its regulation of gut bacteria.

The Langerhans cells possess a unique relation with the skin’s microbiome. They stop the immune system attacking the skin-friendly bacteria, offering the right balance for skin health and appearance. Langerhans cells are a critical part of the skin immune system and are present in all layers of epidermis but stratum corneum. They offer immunity and keep the system calm.

The role of Vitamin-D in the important world of health and beauty of skin is enormous.


Vitamin-D3 generated by sun exposure of bare skin to sunlight and/or acquired by Vitamin-D3 supplements is doubly metabolized, 1st by the liver and then by the kidney to generate Calcitriol (1,25-dihydroxy Vit-D3), the hormone form of Vit-D3 which is a vital nutrient of a human body. Locally, Keratinocytes also generate Calcitriol.

In skin, Calcitriol regulates the cell proliferation, differentiation, and cell death: shedding of old cells and self-renewal of skin in an orderly and steady manner. All these actions culminate to the cell renewal process decorating you with a newer skin. So having a healthy liver and good kidney is important.

This hormone binds to ubiquitous Vitamin-D receptors present in every cell and tissue of the human body and regulates myriad of important body functions. So Vitamin-D deficiency compromises the quality of the body functions and results in a thin, wrinkled and unhealthy skin with rashes and spots etc.

Sun Exposure vs. Supplement? The answer is you need both. Vit-D3 supplements have not shown musculoskeletal performance improvement in bone health. Thus sun exposure is not an option.

Avoid Premature Aging: Avoiding non-essential sun exposure would prevent premature skin aging. Because Vitamin-D3 productive sunlight does not shine year around in most places, one should use supplements. Food supplements always come with several other vital nutrients healthy for the skin.

Ascertain your Vit-D nutrient Status: Let the doctor test you preferably after summer to know your status. Use D-minder in your iPhone to monitor Vit-D3 from sun exposure.

Vit-D3 supplements could be used as tablet, gel caps or topically. Consult your physician.

Gut Bacteria and Vit-D3 have a major role in your skin health and beauty. Vit-D3 performs several of its functions through gut bacteria that normally produce skin-healthy vitamins and help absorption of nutrients. This is key to your radiant skin as the experts say.






Anusuya Choudhury


  1. Hi Anusuya,

    What a great informative article on Skin and Vitamin-D. I like the way you distinguish the benefits that  we will receive through sun exposure and taking supplement. And also a great review on Vitamin-D supplement, and how our body needs these vital nutrient for our body to work properly and to have a radiant beautiful skin. Thanks for this wonderful article. I did learned something new.

    • Thank you, Glenda for your quick response. I am happy you learnt some thing new from my article.

  2. I think its amazing how much the skin care industry has changed, it is noticable the change from an older market to a younger market.

    Vitimin D itself is quite difficult to get where I live as we don’t get an awful lot of sunshine so really suppliments/ products are really the best way to go.

    Overall I found this post exteremly helpful and informative. Thank you.

    • Hi Hannah,

      Thank you for commenting on my article. I am happy you found my post helpful and informative. You definitely need some alternative to Sun exposure. We are living in a D-deficient world. We have to care for ourselves.

  3. Hi there,

    I rarely post comments on the internet, but I couldn’t go without thanking you for this wonderful article which contains a lot of interesting and valuable information.I never knew how important was vitamin D.. I only knew that I can get it from the sun and that it’s beneficial for the immune system. However, today I had some free time and decided to take a more in-depth look which led me to this amazing article. I read with pleasure and learned quite a lot so, one big THANK YOU!


    • Thank you, Nick for your time and a quick assessment of my article. I had similar convictions like you. I am getting sunlight and I am good to go until I found I am quite deficient by my doctor. Many people I have spoken to many people and they are on the same boat regarding their poor understanding of this important nutrient. I am happy you liked the article.

  4. Your post provides very detailed information about skin and the need for vitamin D3 supplements. It was the best way for me to get a clear scientific understanding of how my skin works and what supplements do, but also how they function. Your article may be a little long to hold the interest of a a lay person, but it is strongly appreciated by a person who seeks to understand new topics in depth. 

    After reading this post, I, at aged 75, felt I had the received the benefit of your extensive education, research and personal experience. I will be passing this information on to my offsprings who have a concern and feel more capable of using the information gained to improve my own and siblings ability to affect a more healthy condition of our skin. Thank you for sharing.   

    • Thank you, Roger for reviewing my post so quickly. I am happy you got some benefits from the article. The reason it is long because Google ranks longer articles better and with more information. That is the learning I got from one of WA member who had better success when writing 3500 words kind of articles. I am happy the younger ones can enjoy the benefits when you with them and if they read.

  5. That’s the most comprehensive article about Vitamin D that I’ve come across so far. Although I already knew a lot of this important vitamine, I still learned some more details. 

    It’s absolutely true that UV radiation is one of the most critical factors when it comes to skin aging. Your post shows that we have to find the right balance between healthy sun bathing and overexposure. 

    I especially liked your recommendation of using the D-minder app. That’s great. I didn’t know about that app. Is there a feature to enter a confirmed (blood test) Vit-D value and the app takes its calculations up from this level?

    • Thank you so much for your time reviewing my article so quickly. I am happy you learnt something new. For D-minder does not help you to get that information because the nutrient status we get is not from what is acquired from sun or supplements. The Vit-D level is measured from 25-hydroxy-Vitamin-D which is the major circulating form in the blood. This form is generated after Vit-D3 from sun and supplements are metabolized in liver.

  6. Hey,
    This was a beautiful and informative article.
    A lot of people would be benefited from this.The importance and application of Vitamin D3 in our daily life is very well structured.
    Thank You.

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