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Is Acne a Symptom of Vitamin D Deficiency?

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Vitamin D3 - the Sunshine Vitamin

Vitamin D3 – the Sunshine Vitamin

“Vitamin D” is actually a pre-hormone, not a vitamin.  Given that a widely accepted cause of acne is hormone imbalance, it is very easy to see how adequate, steady levels of Vitamin D3 would lend itself to a “cure.”  In the October 2008 issue of the Vitamin D Council’s newsletter, there was a connection made between vitamin D3 and acne.  Although the mention in the newsletter was brief, they linked to a very thorough and detailed study done by AIERLIN T.-R. MAYNARD, M.D. in 1938.

Here is the segment from the Vitamin D Council’s October 2008 Newsletter:

Dear Dr. Cannell:

My teenage son has type 2 diabetes.  I started him on 5,000 IU of vitamin D a day about 6 months ago.  Three things have happened so far, he started losing weight, his blood sugars improved, and his acne went away.  I know you have written about diabetes and weight loss with vitamin D but I can’t remember anything about acne?

Mary, North Dakota

Dear Mary:

I have had some reports that vitamin D cured acne but frankly, I didn’t believe them.  Then I ran across this 1938 paper.  You can read the entire paper yourself and see what 5,000 to 14,000 IU per day did for these patients with severe acne.  When I was a kid, I always wondered why my pimples got better in the summer and worse in the winter.

Here’s the link to the 1938 study:

Maynard MT. Vitamin D in Acne: A Comparison with X-Ray Treatment. Cal West Med. 1938 Aug;49(2):127-32.

Of the 132 acne patients he studied, 28% were “much better” at three months.  47% were “healed at three months.”

Here is the doctor’s summary:

“I believe I may say that at no time in my dermatological experience have I felt such complete satisfaction with a treatment as I have with the cases of this series. I know that vitamin D is an imperfect weapon to slay this disfiguring disease, but it undoubtedly gives one a feeling of being well defended. From the patients’ viewpoint, it has left little to be desired, as they find themselves improving, both in appearance and in general well-being. Many have expressed the sentiment, “Never felt better.”

I’d love to sell you a blue light for natural acne treatment, but I’d much rather if you did not need acne treatment at all.   Vitamin D3 is safe for all ages in the proper dosage, easy to get, and cheap.

Click here for Ways to Test for Vitamin D Deficiency.
Please visit the Vitamin D Council for recommended dosage.


There are 11 comments .

karen —

i’m middle aged and started taking 1200 iu’s of vitamin d. since then i have started breaking out with acne. is there a connection?

zack —

Acne is not a sign of vitamin d deficiency. How do I know becuase whenever I try to go in the sun my acne gets HORRIFIC! My skin always gets way way way better in the winter.

cristelle —

I believe acne might be a sign of vitamin D deficiency. My acne disappears completely when I am exposed to the sun and my complexion is great. However, during the winter, my skin dries out and my acne comes back.

jules —

Yup, mix of sunlight exposure and vitamin D produced when skin is exposed to sunlight reduces my acne dramatically!

Take vitamin D in the winter! one tab 1,000ui-morning

Paul Muscroft

This is a very interesting topic. I am taking 5000IU of Vitamin D every third day and the acne on my back has certainly cleared up – but it usually cycled between good and bad and I wonder if this was because of the seasons but I just never put the two together. I will have to keep monitoring it. Here is something about Vitamin D and the seasons:

I also wonder if direct sunlight kills bacteria and this along with the Vitamin D creation by the light also helps.

Sunshine —

I started eating 1 can of sardines or kipper snacks a day after reading how important vitamin D was. After about 3-4 days I noticed my skin started getting better. It wasn’t oily anymore and I wasn’t breaking out AT ALL. At first I thought it was the new makeup I was using (I didn’t think for a second it was sardines), and I eventually slacked off on eating them. My skin got bad again, so I started with the 1 can a day once more. Improvement yet again! I think I might be on to something!

Julian —

I have been taking vitamin D (5,00 IU), along with 3 tsp. omega 3 fish oil, B12 methocbalamin for about three weeks now. I have been struggling with very uncomfortable and visible cystic acne on my face, shoulders and back since I was a young teenager. I am now 30 and I am essentially free of acne for the first in my life since then. I would attribute this quick and wonderful result mainly to the fish oil, but perhaps the vitamin D has also contributed. Also, I noticed a mention of “blue light light therapy”. I started with a blue go-light, but after discussing the matter with my naturopath (who has been an immense help), I returned it (Costco is very good for returns) and purchased a 10,000 lumens WHITE light at a local small business. Apparently blue light is a newer LED technology and has not been tried and tested to the degree of the white light devices. Personally, I immediatedly noticed the difference between the two, and I can definitely say the white light is better for me. It is easier on the eyes, and it actually feels like I’m basking in the Sun’s rays. Cheers, Julian.

robbie —

This is interesting. I am 60 years old with a thyroid condition and osteopenia. I was slightly hyperthyroid at my last appointment with my PCP. He adjusted the dosage of my thyroid medication. About a month later, I felt fatigued, weak, lethargic and my skin began to break out. I thought that I was hypothyroid. A blood test came back euthyroid (normal). My PCP ordered a CBC, B12, Folate and Vitamin D3 test. He called after two weeks and told me that I am D3 deficient. I am taking 4000 IU of D3 a day. My energy is returning, and my skin is clearing. I live in Southern California so seasons don’t happen.

Ran —

I had vitamin D test done two months ago and only got 16(normal range 32-100). I started to take 5000 iu per day with Dorctor’s order. After two months, I noticed that my acne has cleared up. I always thought the acne was stress related because it was along the hair line. I am so happy to finally find the cause of my stubborn acne.


I had bad acne for years that I managed with antibiotics. However, I didn’t like the sensitivity to sunlight and upset stomach, so I began to wean myself off. I used tea tree oil to help with the worst outbreaks, but for the most part, I just accepted the acne as is.

Several months ago, I was diagnosed with a severe Vitamin D deficiency (11 ng/ml). I was placed on an aggressive supplementation regimen by my doctor where I took a single 50,000 IU pill once a week. After the first week, I noticed that my acne was better, but I just thought it was one of the random good weeks that I would have from time to time. However, by the first month, I could tell something was very, very different. The acne outbreaks had lessened, and my skin was pretty much at the point that antibiotics had gotten me to, minus all the side effects.

I chatted with my doctor about it, and he mentioned that the Vitamin D was a possibility. After I finished my 50,000 IU plan, I got lazy and didn’t supplement on my own. The acne flared back up. I’m now supplementing at about 15,000-20,000 IU a week, spread over several days and my acne is back under control. Around this time, I also switched to Vitamin D2, since I’m vegetarian. Despite studies that have shown it to be less bioavailable as the D3 that I started on, the results have still been really good.

My acne isn’t “cured” by any stretch, but the pimples are much less frequent, and a LOT smaller. This I can definitely live with :). It’s too bad that this isn’t a better known treatment!

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