The Sunshine Vitamin Repairs Your Skin and Boosts Your Immune System

Add skin repair to the growing legion of benefits associated with getting your body's optimal dose of vitamin D from the sun.

Researchers uncovered an immune process going on underneath the skin of humans in which dendritic cells convert and activate vitamin D3 (the kind produced when your skin is exposed to sunlight). Then, this newly activated vitamin D3 prompts T-cells -- immune cells that regulate some immune cells and eliminate others that are damaged or infected -- to move to the top layer of your skin to fight disease and cancer.

These findings may explain, scientists say, how T-cells get routed to the surface of your skin when it has been exposed to damage via the sun.

Of course, the real trick about getting the optimal amount of vitamin D is getting the appropriate and safe amount of sun exposure, a big challenge right now for patients living in the Northern Hemisphere. Just a reminder, if you choose to take a high quality cod liver oil, I strongly urge you to have your blood levels checked regularly, as it is potentially dangerous not to do so.

Nature Immunology January 28, 2007

New Scientist January 28, 2007