According to the National Psoriasis Foundation (NPF), roughly 7.5 million Americans suffer from the painful, often embarrassing symptoms associated with psoriasis. Fortunately, there is some relief during the summer months, thanks in part to the vitamin D provided by sunlight. Vitamin D reduces inflammation. The NPF suggests that the combination of vitamin D and UV rays from sun exposure can help clear or prevent psoriasis. Vitamin D is also important for healthy immune function and since psoriasis is an autoimmune disease, soaking up a few rays can be a good thing.
A 2012 study published in the British Journal of Dermatology, found that people with psoriasis tend to have low levels of vitamin D, particularly in colder seasons. In 2008 and 2009, researchers at Dublin’s St. Vincent’s University Hospital studied 60 psoriasis patients and found that those who had UV light therapy three times a week saw their psoriasis symptoms resolve and the levels of vitamin D in their blood almost double.
One of the reasons vitamin D is a successful treatment for psoriasis is that the nutrient can change the way cells grow. Psoriasis is a rapid increase of skin cell growth, so vitamin D may actually slow the growth of the cells and cause the plaques to become thinner and less scaly.
This doesn’t mean that psoriasis sufferers should be spending all day in the hot, summer sun. But experts agree that 20-30 minutes is just enough to absorb some vitamin D and helpful UV rays. If you can’t get enough sunlight, try eating more of these vitamin D rich foods:
- Fortified milk and orange juice
- Fortified yogurt and cereal
- Egg yolks
- Sole or flounder
- Beef liver
- Ricotta or Swiss cheese