Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory disease characterized by red, scaly plaques on the skin that may be itchy or painful and has a significant impact on people’s daily life. Many conventional treatments for psoriasis exist, including various topical, oral, and systemic therapies. Yet, many patients find that standard medications are ineffective or have intolerable side effects, which leads them to seek alternatives.
Recent research suggests that certain lifestyle modifications such as weight loss and alcohol abstinence can significantly improve symptoms of psoriasis.[1,2] Additionally, many patients report and some research shows that the addition of certain vitamins and supplements to their diet can lead to clearer skin and improve other symptoms such as joint pain.
There is still a lot to learn about how supplements and vitamins may help those with psoriasis. Here’s an overview of a few vitamins and supplements.
Psoriasis results from a combination of skin cells being produced too rapidly and uncontrolled inflammation. Vitamin D plays a major role in the development and maturation of new skin cells.
Low levels of vitamin D can thus hinder these processes and potentially contribute to the development and maintenance of psoriasis., Increasing the concentration of vitamin D in the skin can regulate this uncontrolled cell growth. Examples of these topical medications include calcipotriol, maxacalcitol, and tacalcitol.
Vitamin D can be made in our skin when ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun penetrate the skin. Therefore, short periods of daily sun exposure (around 10 minutes) can be beneficial for psoriasis but it is important to remember to wear sunscreen on the areas of skin not affected by psoriasis and avoid the sun when it is most intense from 10 am until 4 pm.
Vitamin D can be obtained from natural sources such as milk, eggs, fortified orange juice, salmon, cod, and tuna.
The role of oral vitamin D supplements in psoriasis is controversial. Some studies have shown oral vitamin D can lead to improvement in psoriasis symptoms, while others have shown no significant benefit.[6,7] In addition, scientists are concerned about the potentially harmful side effects resulting from having too much vitamin D in the body.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are known to be anti-inflammatory, which can be beneficial in some inflammatory diseases such as psoriasis. One form of omega-3 fatty acids is called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) and can be found in walnuts, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, flax seeds, and hemp seeds.
Long-chain omega-3 fatty acids such as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) can be obtained from oral supplements made from lab-grown algae or fatty fish.
Although some research studies have suggested that increasing omega-3 fatty acid intake can lead to clearer skin and improve redness, scaling, and itching in psoriasis, other studies have shown no benefit.
Patients should consult their doctors before starting omega-3 fatty acid supplements since they can thin the blood and interact with medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and warfarin. But eating a diet rich in Omega 3 Is always healthy!
Curcumin is the active compound found in turmeric and has anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. Curcumin supplements exist in both oral and topical forms, and several studies have shown that either formulation can be beneficial in psoriasis. For example, in one study, patients who applied topical curcumin twice a day had significant improvement of psoriasis symptoms in as little as 2-8 weeks.
Some studies have shown that oral curcumin in combination with topical steroids or phototherapy can be of benefit.[14,15] The effectiveness of oral curcumin by itself, however, is not clear. Most studies have had disappointing results, possibly due to the low oral absorption of the supplements. However, newer formulations have been created to enhance the oral and topical absorption of curcumin. With further research, curcumin could become a useful alternative treatment for psoriasis in the future.
Although some studies have reported that intramuscular vitamin B12 injections are beneficial in psoriasis, others have shown no effect. Recent studies have demonstrated the potential benefit of topical vitamin B12 for the treatment of psoriasis.
Low levels of selenium have also been associated with psoriasis, however, supplementation has only been shown to be beneficial in one study, while other studies have shown no benefit.