Vitamin D deficiency can hinder the wound healing process.
In order for the body to properly recover, it must have the right balance of vitamins, nutrients and other essential elements. One of the important components for wound healing is vitamin D. It often goes overlooked during recovery as many people take the vitamin for granted and do not fully appreciate the part it plays in every aspect of health. But with a greater understanding of vitamin D and its role in healing, you may want to consider monitoring your own levels of the nutrient.
The relationship between vitamin D and wound healing
An ample amount of vitamin D is essential for proper healing. According to the series “Nutrition Minute” published in the journal Advances in Skin & Wound Care, sustaining an injury causes the cells in the skin to require higher amounts of vitamin D. That’s because of the many vital roles the element plays in the recovery process. It controls genes that promote the creation of cathelicidin, an antimicrobial peptide that the immune system uses to fight off wound infections. When someone has a deficiency in vitamin D, the immune function can become compromised, making you more susceptible to potentially harmful bacteria and other foreign invaders.
Another interesting aspect of the connection between this element and healing is that wounds tend to cause a deficiency in vitamin D levels. This complicated relationship between vitamin D and wound healing has been proven by the scientific community. A study conducted by researchers at the Evangelical University Hospital of Curitiba in Brazil looked into the relation between vitamin D insufficiency and healing. The study utilized a group of 26 patients with leg ulcers and a control group of the same size without ulcers. Factors such as age, gender, hypertension and tobacco use were taken into consideration. Half of the ulcer group received vitamin D for a period of two months, while the other half was given a placebo.
The testing showed that those who had ulcers on their legs had a deficiency in vitamin D levels compared to the participants with no wound. Those who underwent treatment with vitamin D supplementation saw a decrease in the size of the ulcer, while those who did not take a supplement saw no significant change. As such, the researchers concluded that patients with wounds are more likely to have a vitamin D deficiency, and there exists a trend toward better wound healing in people who undergo a vitamin D regimen to counter their deficiencies.
Increasing vitamin D levels
While other vitamins and nutrients are generally introduced to the body through the foods we eat, vitamin D works a bit differently. The main source of this element is exposure to sunlight. Ultraviolet-B radiation waves stimulate the production of vitamin D from a chemical in the skin’s epidermis called 7-dehydrocholesterol, which then promotes proper wound healing. As such, it acts more like a hormone than a vitamin.
Many elements come into play concerning skin synthesis of vitamin D. The latitude and air quality of where you live as well as your sunscreen habits may help determine how much of this nutrient is produced in the epidermis. For this reason, deficiency is not uncommon. But there are other ways to increase your levels of this nutrient without spending an excessive number of hours in the sun, which can be dangerous to your health. According to the National Institutes of Health, these foods are high in vitamin D:
- Cod liver oil
- Swordfish, salmon, tuna and other fatty fish
- Many fortified drinks, such as milk and orange juice.
- Beef liver
- Egg yolk
- Swiss cheese