Vitamin D supplements can help speed up the time taken for burns to heal, and prevent scarring, a new study suggests.
The vitamin which is produced naturally in the body when the skin comes into contact with sunshine, is believed to help protect against burning.
Previous studies have shown that vitamin D supplements help decrease inflammation, redness and swelling after sunburn, and may be one of the reasons the body produces the chemical.
Now new research from Birmingham University has found it may also help combat other types of burn.
Researchers monitored 38 patients who had suffered serious burns for a year and recorded their levels of Vitamin D.
They found that those with the highest levels of vitamin D had better wound healing, fewer complications and less scarring.
This study is the first to investigate the role of vitamin D in recovery from burn injury and suggests that giving supplements to victims of both serious and minor burns may be a simple and cost-effective treatment to enhance healing.
Professor Janet Lord of the Institute of Inflammation & Aging in Birmingham, at Birmingham University, said: "Low vitamin D levels were associated with worse outcomes in burn patients including life threatening infections, mortality and delayed wound healing.
"It was also associated with worse scarring but vitamin D levels are something generally overlooked by clinicians.
"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, with minimal cost to NHS."
Patients with severe burns are at high risk of infection that may lead to life-threatening sepsis.
Vitamin D is known to have antibacterial actions that may help combat infection and therefore aid in wound healing of burn patients.
The researchers say clinicians often overlook levels of vitamin D in burns victims. Prof Lord and her team are now focussed on finding out why there is a rapid loss of vitamin D in patients immediately following burn injury and hope that they may be able to prevent this in future.
The amount of reduction in patients' vitamin D levels was not related to the severity of the burn, so levels may also be decreased in more minor burn injuries, suggesting taking supplements could also help people with everyday burns.
Recent studies have also shown that the vitamin is crucial for the immune system, can protect against heart disease, asthma and the flu, and may even help fight depression and even cancer.
Public Health England now recommends that all Britons take vitamin D supplements in the winter because it is impossible to make sufficient quantities in the darker months.
The research was presented at the Society for Endocrinology annual conference in Harrogate.