A letter published in the January 24 2004 issue of The Lancet recommends supplementation with vitamin D following acute burn injuries. The letter, coauthored by vitamin D researcher Michael F Holick, summarized a study that included 12 children who with burn injuries averaging 52 percent of their body surface. Biopsy samples were taken from scar tissue and adjacent areas over a year after their injuries and levels of levels of the vitamin D3 precursors 7-dehydrocholesterol, and its conversion product previtamin D3 were determined. Tissue samples taken from nonburned wound site skin of healthy volunteers and from newborn foreskins following circumcision were used as control samples.
An average of fourteen months following their injuries, 73 percent of the burn patients were found to have deficient blood levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin-D, the form of the vitamin that is the main criterion for determining vitamin D deficiency. When the scar tissue samples were examined, 7-dehydrocholesterol was lower in the burn patients compared to the controls. Previtamin D3 in both scar tissue and adjacent skin was significantly lower in burn patients compared to controls.
Previous research revealed an association between acute burn injury in childhood and subsequent low lumbar spine bone mineral density, indicating longlasting bone loss. Deficient levels of serum vitamin D have also been noted in these patients. Because vitamin D is involved in maintaining bone mass, a defect in the ability of the burned skin to produce this vitamin may be responsible for these findings. Additionally, the reduced ability of skin adjacent to scar tissue to synthesize vitamin D shows that this phenomenon occurs in a total body surface area greater than that involved in the burn. The authors postulate that “scar tissue has more ultraviolet-B-absorbing substances similar to melanin and sunscreens,” and they conclude that, “burn patients should receive vitamin D supplementation.”
Source: Life Extension Foundation (LEF), online at www.lef.org.