Can Your Skin Absorb Vitamin D from Lotions and Creams?

Nutrition Diva discusses your skin's ability to absorb vitamin D from creams, lotions, and whether or not it's as effective as taking a supplement.

Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS
1-minute read

Can Your Skin Absorb Vitamin D from Lotions and Creams?

Q. Can vitamin D from vitamin D creams, lotions, or oil be absorbed through the skin and if so, is it just as effective as taking a supplement?  

A. Although your skin does have the ability to manufacture vitamin D when exposed to UV rays, we don’t know too much about its ability to absorb the nutrient from lotions or creams.

Doctors often prescribe a type of vitamin D cream as a treatment for psoriasis; it seems to slow down the excessive proliferation of skin cells that characterizes this condition. But at least one study found that using this type of cream on your skin doesn’t affect the levels of vitamin D in the bloodstream.

Even if you could absorb some D from a lotion, I doubt any cosmetic lotion would contain anywhere near enough to make an impact on your blood levels. According to the Vitamin D Council, in the absence of studies to establish absorption rates and appropriate dosages, using a lotion as a source of vitamin D is “a shot in the dark.”

See also: How to Get Vitamin D

Cosmetic Bottles photo from Shutterstock.

About the Author

Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS

Monica Reinagel is a board-certified licensed nutritionist, author, and the creator of one of iTunes' most highly ranked health and fitness podcasts. Her advice is regularly featured on the TODAY show, Dr. Oz, NPR, and in the nation's leading newspapers, magazines, and websites. Do you have a nutrition question? Call the Nutrition Diva listener line at 443-961-6206. Your question could be featured on the show.