Vitamin D, the so-called sunshine vitamin, appears to protect the skin from harmful microbes, according to U.S. researchers.
The vitamin is produced in the skin during exposure to sunlight. It is then stored in the skin in an inactive form until it is needed. The active form is known as D3.
The latest research suggests the vitamin becomes activated when the skin is wounded. In particular, cells around the injury site send out signals that convert the inactive vitamin into D3. And D3, in turn, helps to activate the body's defences against microbes that could invade the body through broken skin.
"Our study shows that skin wounds need vitamin D3 to protect against infection and begin the normal repair process," said Richard Gallo, research leader at the University of California, San Diego.
"A deficiency in active D3 may compromise the body's innate immune system, which works to resist infections, making a patient more vulnerable to microbes."
This finding, published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, has important implications for Canadians who get very little sun exposure during winter.
Although you can also obtain vitamin D from some foods, many Canadians might not be consuming enough. That means you might need vitamin D supplements.