Vitamin D supplements are known to reduce the inflammation and swelling associated with sunburn, but a new study from Birmingham University suggests that it may also help with more serious burns. Results were recently presented at the Society for Endocrinology annual conference in Harrowgate, England.
The study, which followed 38 patients with serious burns for a year and monitored their vitamin D levels, found that the patients with the highest levels had more rapid healing and less scar formation. They also suffered from fewer complications of the burn. In contrast, lower vitamin D levels were associated with an increased risk of infection, delayed wound healing and overall mortality.
“Low vitamin D levels were associated with worse outcomes in burn patients including life threatening infections, mortality and delayed wound healing,” Professor Janet Lord of the Institute of Inflammation & Aging in Birmingham, told the Telegraph. “It was also associated with worse scarring but vitamin D levels are something generally overlooked by clinicians.”
This is the first study to investigate the role vitamin D may in burn recovery, according to the news source.
"Major burn injury severely reduces vitamin D levels and adding this vitamin back may be a simple, safe and cost-effective way to improve outcomes for burns patients…," according to the news source.
At the same time, researchers report that reduced vitamin D levels were not related to burn severity and therefore supplements may also benefit less severe burns.
Additional benefits of vitamin D supplementation may also include protecting the immune system, minimizing infection and sepsis risk, protecting from heart disease and more.
The next phase of research for Prof Lord and team is understanding the reason why burn patients’ vitamin D levels decline after a burn injury and to, hopefully, find ways to prevent the decline and promote healing.