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Study: Oral vitamin D may help prevent some skin infections
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A new study by U.S. researchers suggests that use of oral Vitamin D supplements may help prevent skin infections that are a common result of atopic dermatitis, the most common form of eczema.

The study, led by researchers at the University of California, San Diego, found that use of oral vitamin D appeared to correct a defect in the immune systems in patients with this skin disease. The finding was published on Oct. 3 in the latest edition of the Journal of Allergy & Clinical Immunology.

The researchers studied a small number of patients with moderate to severe atopic dermatitis, a chronic skin disease that affects 10 to 20 percent of children and one-three percent of adults.

It had previously been shown that defects in the immune system interfere with the skin's ability to produce a peptide called cathelicidin, which is protective against microbial invasion. In many skin diseases, including eczema, a deficiency of cathelicidin correlates with increased infection.

Study participants (14 with atopic dermatitis and 14 without) were all given 4,000 IUs of oral Vitamin D3 per day for 21 days. Skin lesions were biopsied before and after the 21-day period. The researchers found that oral vitamin D use by the patients appeared to correct the skin's defect in cathelicidin.

"These results suggest that supplementation with oral vitamin D dramatically induces cathelicidin production in the skin of patients with atopic dermatitis," said the authors. "It also slightly elevated its production in normal skin in this study."

However, the researchers caution that this was a small study and that further research is needed to evaluate the long-term effects of vitamin D supplementation, and to determine if this maybe an adequate way to prevent infections in patients with atopic dermatitis.

(Xinhua News Agency October 7, 2008)

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