Psoriasis and Vitamins

Recent research has focused on vitamin supplementation and how a variety of vitamins and minerals can be beneficial for those suffering from psoriasis.

For 8 million Americans, psoriasis is a chronic disease that must be endured daily. Psoriasis is a condition in which skin cells grow at an abnormally fast rate, often causing red and silver lesions on the skin which can be itchy, bumpy and painful.  Recent research has focused on vitamin supplementation and how a variety of vitamins and minerals can be beneficial for those suffering from psoriasis.

Vitamin D

The therapeutic effect of vitamin D from sunlight lies in its ability to help the body produce vitamin D. This is a powerful hormone that plays a role in hundreds of metabolic reactions. Vitamin D is thought to affect psoriasis on multiple levels, including helping to regulate keratinocyte (skin cell) growth and differentiation as well as influence the immune functions of T lymphocytes and other cells. Vitamin D also inhibits cytotoxic T, potentially helping to regulate skin cell growth.

Multiple studies have shown how powerful vitamin D can be in fighting the symptoms of psoriasis. One study showed that using both oral and topical vitamin D preparations improved psoriasis symptoms. Another more recent study has shown that taking or applying supplemental vitamin D with a steroid cream produces even more favorable results than just vitamin D alone. And yet another study found that vitamin D could have important immunomodulatory effects in psoriasis.

Unfortunately, 80% of patients in the winter, and 50% in the summer, are vitamin-D deficient. When shopping for a vitamin D supplement, look for vitamin D3.  And remember to take it with magnesium.  Magnesium is important for both for the proper function of calcium and for the activity of vitamin D, as it converts vitamin D into its active form. Magnesium also activates enzyme activity that helps your body use the vitamin D.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is found in high levels in the epidermis (outer layer of skin) as well as the dermis (inner layer of skin). Its antioxidant properties, and its role in collagen production help keep your skin healthy. This is why vitamin C is one of the key ingredients found in many antiaging skin care products.

Antioxidants can help support the treatment of psoriasis by preventing damage linked to oxidative stress. Oxidative stress occurs when levels of disease-triggering free radical molecules and protective antioxidant substances are imbalanced.

Vitamin C, a water-soluble vitamin that also serves as a powerful antioxidant, may be helpful for psoriasis in reducing the action of free radicals. You can easily get vitamin C from diet, supplements, or both.

Vitamin K2

Vitamin K is not a common vitamin many people talk about, but it has quite a number of functions. It is mostly known for creating factors in the blood to help it clot—this is vitamin K1. But there is a different type of vitamin K that has anti-inflammatory properties—vitamin K2.  And since psoriasis is an inflammatory disease, it is relevant.

In various studies, vitamin K2 has been shown to decrease inflammation by stopping the production of signals that cause inflammation. Other studies have looked at vitamin K2 in another inflammation-driven condition, rheumatoid arthritis. In these studies, vitamin K2 supplementation decreased the overall inflammation values on blood tests.  There have yet to be any formal studies with vitamin K2 on psoriasis, but anecdotally many people have found relief by taking vitamin K2.