Vitamin D and the skin: what should a dermatologist know?

G Ital Dermatol Venereol. 2019 Dec;154(6):669-680. doi: 10.23736/S0392-0488.19.06433-2. Epub 2019 Jul 12.


Although first discovered in 1931, vitamin D has seen an increased interest in the scientific community over the past decades, including the dermatology field. Vitamin D promotes calcium and phosphorus absorption; however, the actions of vitamin D are not confined to bone. Indeed, there is now overwhelming and compelling scientific data that vitamin D plays a crucial role in a plethora of cellular function and in extra-skeletal health. Except for fatty fish livers, very few foods naturally contain vitamin D; and the major source of vitamin D comes from skin exposure to sunlight via ultraviolet B. Keratinocytes are unique in the body as not only do they provide the primary source of vitamin D for the body, but they also possess both the enzymatic machinery to metabolize the vitamin D produced to active metabolites. This has been referred to as the photoendocrine vitamin D system. Vitamin D regulates keratinocytes proliferation and differentiation; and plays a role in the defense against opportunistic infections. Multiple factors are linked to vitamin D status; and a growing number of dermatologic diseases has been linked to vitamin D status such as atopic dermatitis, psoriasis, vitiligo, and cutaneous cancers. In this article, we reviewed the potential determinants of vitamin D status, as its implications in dermatologic diseases.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation / physiology
  • Cell Proliferation / physiology
  • Humans
  • Keratinocytes / metabolism
  • Skin / metabolism*
  • Skin / physiopathology
  • Skin Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Sunlight
  • Vitamin D / metabolism*


  • Vitamin D