Get your psoriasis in check with Vitamin D!
BY CAYLA RAMEY
REVIEWED BY SUHANI SHAH, BASC, ND
Psoriasis is defined by inflammation that results in red, scaly patches of skin. According to the Mayo Clinic, people at a higher risk of developing psoriasis are those with a family history of the condition, those with viral or bacterial infections, those experiencing high levels of stress, obese individuals, and smokers.
There are several types of psoriasis, each with their own specific symptoms. These include plaque psoriasis, nail psoriasis, guttate psoriasis, and scalp psoriasis. The symptoms can cause discomfort and pain, and may even lead to joint problems. People suffering from psoriasis should note that this condition might lead to other severe medical conditions, such as arthritis, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and Parkinson’s disease, all due to chronic inflammation.
While the causes of psoriasis remain unknown, it has been characterized by the infiltration of inflammatory cells into the epidermis, and altered keratinocytes (Lie et al., 2007). Psoriasis is an autoimmune condition resulting in overactive T cells that attack healthy skin cells in their mission to fight o infection. This causes new skin cells to move to the outer layer of skin too quickly, not giving dead skin cells enough time to shed.
Psoriasis can be triggered by various factors, including infections, wounds, stress, cold weather, and certain medications. While there is no cure for it, there are several natural ways to help relieve symptoms—vitamin D being one of the most prominent.
VITAMIN D – USE AS DIRECTED OR UP TO 4000IU DAILY
Vitamin D, also known as the sunshine vitamin, changes the way cells grow. Skin cells usually develop over the course of a month, whereas with psoriasis, they tend to develop over the course of a few days. Vitamin D has proven to slow this growth, causing plaques to become less scaly. Topical treatments often contain an active form of vitamin D, further proving its function in reducing psoriasis symptoms.
Vitamin D can be found naturally in foods and can be absorbed by the skin from sunlight. Foods rich in vitamin D include fatty fish, beef liver, cheese, and egg yolks. Other choices are topical creams, oral liquid or capsules.
Use caution with vitamin D when taking medications for heart disease, as this supplement may decrease their effectiveness or cause an irregular heartbeat.
Evidence suggests that vitamin D regulates keratinocytes and T cell function (LoPiccolo et al., 2010). The active form of vita- min D exhibits antiproliferative and immunoregulatory effects through the vitamin D receptor, which has proved its benefit as a topical treatment (Wolters, 2005).
A year-long, cross-sectional study measured vitamin D in 145 patients with chronic plaque psoriasis, and 57.8 per cent of them were found to be deficient (Gisondi et al., 2012). Another case-controlled study of 86 participants with psoriasis found a strong association between the presence of psoriasis and a vitamin D deficiency. Those with low vitamin D levels had increased C reactive protein (an inflammatory marker) (Orgaz-Molina et al., 2012).
Regardless, psoriasis is characterized as an autoimmune disease, and studies have shown vitamin D is essential to the health of the immune system. Vitamin D promotes healthy bones, enhances the absorption of calcium, and promotes collagen matrix formation. Due to its ability to change the processing of certain cells, vitamin D has been shown to slow the progression of existing autoimmune diseases (Zolds et al., 2005).
The treatment of psoriasis with dietary, supplemental, or topical vitamin D seems to be a safe and effective natural treatment option for those suffering with psoriasis.