Vitamin D For Different Skin Types and Ages

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Vitamin D is essential for your health. It’s created when your skin is exposed to sunlight and is often referred to as the “sunshine vitamin.”

Vitamin D is crucial for your bone health and immune system function, and if you don’t have enough Vitamin D, it can lead to more complex health problems. 

Despite being made when your skin is exposed to sunlight, Vitamin D deficiency is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies worldwide.

This article discusses everything you need to know about vitamin D for different skin types and ages. 

Which vitamin D is good for different skin types? 

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, and many of our essential bodily functions rely on it to work.

Vitamin D is made when you’re exposed to UV rays from sunlight. Your body stores excess vitamin D for later use. 

There are two types of vitamin D when it comes to your diet and supplements, these are:

  • Vitamins D2 (ergocalciferol): This is found in some mushrooms (not all of them).
  • Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol): This is found in oily fish, fish liver oil, and egg yolks. 

Vitamin D3 is a lot more powerful, and it can improve your Vitamin D levels almost two times as much as vitamin D2 can. Read our ‘Vitamin D3: Usage, Health Benefits & Side Effects‘ guide for more information.

Supplements are also widely available and are safe and effective to take alongside a healthy diet.

Do darker skin tones need more vitamin D? 

People who have darker skin tones, such as African, African Caribbean, or people with a South Asian origin, will need to spend more time in the sun to provide the same amount of vitamin D as those with lighter skin. 

The answer to how much vitamin D darker-skinned people require is summarised below.

Levels of Vitamin D for darker skin tones (1)

  • Sufficient level – this is a level of 20 nanograms per millilitre (ng/mL) or 50 nanomoles per litre (nmol/L) and above
  • Insufficient level – this is a level between 12 and 20 ng/mL (30 and 50 nmol/L)
  • Deficient level – this is a level below 12 ng/mL (30 nmol/L)

Do lighter skin make more vitamin D? 

Fair-skinned people who are more prone to sunburn may be required to take Vitamin D supplements to get enough vitamin D. 

Supplements are already recommended for groups at a higher risk of a deficiency. This includes people with darker skin, people who wear full-body coverings, the elderly, young children, and pregnant and breastfeeding women who have been advised to avoid the sun.

Any level less than 25nmol/L can be classified as a deficiency, but experts believe that anything lower than 60nmol/L can be a potential risk to health (1).

Vitamin D for different skin types

What are Vitamin D supplements? 

One of the better ways to get more Vitamin D into your body is to take the right supplements. You’ll find plenty of supplement options available on the high street, pharmacies, supermarkets and other health stores. You can even buy combinations of vitamins, which will provide you with other nutrients such as vitamin C or calcium. 

Taking fish liver oil supplements 

Taking fish liver oil supplements is a great way of adding more vitamin D into your diet. This supplement is packed with nutrients such as Vitamin A and omega-3 fatty acids. One capsule will roughly contain 2-5mcg of the vitamin. 

Please note that food supplements are intended to supplement your diet. They should not be used as a substitute for a healthy diet and lifestyle. 

Related: The difference between vitamin D2 and D3

How common are Vitamin D deficiencies? 

Vitamin D deficiency is extremely common. Around 2 billion people worldwide have low levels of Vitamin d in their blood. Here is a breakdown of risk factors for Vitamin D deficiency.

  • Having dark skin 
  • Being elderly
  • Being overweight
  • Not eating much fish or dairy 
  • Living in an area of the world which had little sunlight all year round
  • People who stay indoors and can’t go outside. 

How many Vitamin D supplements should I take? 

Recommended daily dose for adults:

  • For vitamin D deficiency in adults: Research suggests that an intake of 50,000 IU (international units) per week for a length of 6-12 weeks is recommended. Some patients do require a higher dose for longer periods of time to maintain the optimum level of vitamin D in their blood. You should always speak to your doctor if you’re unsure of how much to take (2).

Recommended daily dose for children:

  • For vitamin D deficiency in children: It is recommended that children aged 1 to 10 years shouldn’t have more than 50 micrograms (2,000 IU) a day. Infants under 12 months should not have more than 25 micrograms (1,000 IU) in a day. Some children may not be able to take as much, so please consult your doctor if you’re unsure on how much Vitamin D your child can take (3).

Recommended daily dose for elderly people:

  • The recommended daily allowance for an elderly person taking vitamin D is 600 IU per day for those 1-70 years of age. Infants under 1 year need 400 IU, while adults 71 and older require 800 IU (4).
Vitamin D for different ages

Does age affect vitamin D absorption? 

Another risk factor for lower levels of Vitamin D is age. As we get older, our skin gets thinner, and we don’t produce as much vitamin D as we used to. Research has proven that lower levels of Vitamin D have been linked with cognitive decline. Vitamin D may play a very important factor in preventing dementia (5). 

Can teenagers take vitamin D supplements? 

Yes, teenagers can absolutely take vitamin D supplements. It’s recommended that children and teenagers should get at least 600 IU (International Units) of vitamin D every day (6).

What age should you stop taking vitamin D supplements? 

You should always consult your doctor if you’re not sure how much vitamin D you can safely take and for how long. 

If your doctor has advised that you take a specific amount of vitamin D, You should always follow their advice. 

The Bottom Line 

Despite being made when your skin is exposed to sunlight, Vitamin D deficiency is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies worldwide.

Vitamin D is essential to many things like bone health, immune system function and can even help you fight against cancer.

Different skin types and ages require different amounts of Vitamin D. If you’re unsure about how much you should take, please consult a medical professional.