Vitamin D and Psoriasis

June 8, 2011

Vitamin D has been in the news quite a bit lately. Almost every magazine and every news channel had something to say about vitamin D. Most of the scientific reports are contradictory to each other about vitamin D and overall health. We certainly know one thing and that’s the sales of vitamin D supplements are sky rocketing.

Despite all that hype about vitamin D in news media, there is almost no information on vitamin D and its impact on psoriasis. As usual, we don’t have answers about how vitamin D supplements affect psoriasis. We know that Narrow Band UVB (NBUVB) treatments for psoriasis effectively increase serum vitamin D levels. Also, the same study from Ireland reported that up to 75% of Irish patients with psoriasis had low levels of serum vitamin D during winter time.

On the other hand, topical vitamin D treatment for psoriasis has been around for a long time. Topical vitamin D has been shown to be beneficial in alleviating psoriasis plaques. Topical vitamin D is also known to work with topical steroids together. Also, long term topical vitamin D treatment is useful without the long term side effects of topical steroids.

Lately, we are also finding that topical vitamin D maybe helpful in preventing psoriatic lesions. Of course, this will require further research to be confirmed scientifically.

Selected Food Sources of Vitamin D:

  • Cod liver oil
  • Salmon (sockeye)
  • Mackerel
  • Tuna Fish canned in water
  • Milk, non-fat, reduced fat, and whole vitamin D fortified
  • Orange juice fortified with vitamin D
  • Yogurt fortified with 20% of the Daily Value of vitamin D
  • Margarine fortified
  • Egg, vitamin D is found in the yolk
  • Swiss cheese

Leon Kircik, M.D.

Dr. Kircik is a Board Certified Dermatologist who graduated with AOA Honors from State University of New York at the Health Sciences Center at Brooklyn after completing his undergraduate work with Phi Beta Kappa at New York University.

He completed a Mohs Micrographic Surgery and Cutaneous Oncology Fellowship under the auspices of Dr. Frederick Mohs at the University of Wisconsin after completing his dermatology residency at State University of New York in Buffalo.

He currently teaches at Indiana University Medical Center as an Associate Clinical Professor of Dermatology. He is also the Medical Director of Derm Research, PLLC and Physicians Skin Care, PLLC in Louisville, Kentucky. He has been the principal investigator of numerous clinical trials for psoriasis, acne, rosacea, atopic dermatitis, skin cancers, and actinic keratosis, just to name a few.

Dr. Kircik is an author of many scientific articles, abstracts and posters. He has lectured extensively nationally and internationally on all aspects of dermatologic conditions. In addition, he also serves on the advisory boards of several pharmaceutical companies as a consultant. He volunteers for multiple local and national medical society committees.


Comments

  • I certainly received some benefit from vitamin D for my psoriasis. I however noticed no improvement at all with my Psoriatic Arthritis. At the end of the day there is no substitute for sunlight. Taking tablets that help you absorb the vitamin D, at least half an hour a day of sun a day and especially to the effected parts is all you really need.

  • I have suffered from Psoriatic arthritis for about 25 years now. Haven’t found anything that really controls it very well including tar based shampoos.
    Will try the vitamin D tablet idea but how do you get sunlight onto the scalp? This is where I have it the worst.

  • Hi Gary,

    There are phototherapy (light therapy) units that are designed to target scalp psoriasis. You can find a list of phototherapy manufacturers on the National Psoriasis Foundation website: http://www.psoriasis.org/page.aspx?pid=1036. For information about this form of therapy, visit: http://www.psoriasis.org/about-psoriasis/treatments/phototherapy.

  • I’ve had psoriasis for over 30 years and started taking vitamin D supplements three months ago and it has completely cleared. All the itching has stopped, hence I have stopped scratching which made it bleed and very sore. The skin on my arm was very red, sore and rough and now it’s almost back to normal.

  • Thank you for your comment, Tracey— we’re very glad to hear that you have found an effective treatment! While further research needs to be completed to demonstrate the overall effectiveness of oral vitamin d supplements, you can share your experience with others through the Talk Psoriasis message board: http://www.talkpsoriasis.org.

  • Hi Tracey,
    Could you tell me what you used to help your psoriasis please.
    Many thanks Carole

  • My psoriasis started about a year ago and has now spread widely, fortunately not to my face – yet.

    I have always gotten out in the sun in the UK summer, in the middle of the day and without sunscreen, and knowing the value of vitamin D, I also spend 4 of the winter months in the Canaries, where I do the same thing. I had a blood test for vit D in April. My total was 150.8 nmol/l. But despite this, my plaque psoriasis continues to prosper.

    At this rate, I won’t look particularly pretty when I go back the the Canaries and strip off in November!

    Is there any point in my buying a narrow band UVB lamp for home use?

  • Hi Anthony: treating psoriasis with a phototherapy device at home can be an economical and convenient choice. Often, people begin treatment at a medical facility. Later, the begin using a light booth at home. You can read more about home phototherapy here: https://psoriasis.org/about-psoriasis/treatments/phototherapy.

  • @Tracey Brock – What was the vitamin D supplement that you took to get rid of your psorisis?

  • I have been taking 3 times the recommended amount of vitamin D daily and I have noticed a huge reduction in my psoriasis. If I forget to take the vitamins for a couple of days I know immediately because my psoriasis starts to re-appear but once I get my vitamin D amount up again it calms down greatly. I firmly believe that it works to take extra vitamin d.

  • Mr doctor tested my Vit D level and I tested at 18 ng/ml. Very low – ideal range is 50-70 ng/ml from what I understand. Any level below 20 ng/ml is considered a serious deficiency state. I was given a RX for 50,000 units of Vit D 2x week for 90 days. After 4 weeks, I feel way better – my scalp psoriasis is 90% resolved. Who knew – Vitamin D. (It can be toxic in high doses so don’t go the route alone)

  • I had psoriasis of varying severity from the age of 8. I am now 45, and about a year ago I decided to take Vitamin d3, based on information that Health Canada had tripled the value of what constitutes Vitamin D deficiency, and information from the US suggested that 70-80% of patients are deficient. Also, researchers discovered that there are Vitamin D receptors on every cell in the body, and that its function is not completely understood. I took 5000IU 5-7 times per week, and about 2 months ago, I woke up one morning and 99% of my psoriasis was gone. I had between 50-100 lesions on my body, limbs and face, and extensive scales in my scalp. I had a few lingering areas for a few days, then nothing. It was quite a shock. Since then, I have had a few patches return, about the size of a pencil eraser, but i have steadfastly refused to use any medication (Dovobet) to see if the Vitamin D alone can contol it. If you think about it, if your whole body suffers from a deficiency and you replenish only the areas in the skin, the rest of the body remains deficient, and could very likely ‘suck’ the Vitamin D out of the skin, reducing the local benefit. In case anyone doubts my story, I am a registered pharmacist in the province of Ontario. I’m sharing my story here so that others may benefit. I also discovered that Vitamin D2 has only 30% the potency of Vitamin D3. I used Weber Naturals over the last year, and since I started Jamieson 3 weeks ago, I have had 2 new lesions so I will be switching back to Weber.

  • l have suffered from Psoriasis for 47 yrs just started vitamin D which l got from my Doctor l have read some of the comment’s seems to help some people l’m curious to find out if it will help me Life has been such a struggle especially when summer come’s people do not understand what Psoriasis is they think they can get it l have a complex and cover up,suppose we really cannot complain there are people with Life threatening Health problem’s l wish you all the best !!!!
    Marie.

  • What should I buy exactly

  • I too have suffered from Psoriosis for many years and have now started taking vitimin D as a last hope after trying everything for many years. I have taken 75 micrograms a day and I have too say it works. 75% of my body was covered with scaling and now it is clearing. I can see improvements daily. I also take cod liver oil along with a Omega 3 supliment. Early days yet still only 8 weeks since I started taking it but I should say, by 16 to 20 weeks my skin will be back to normal.

  • Hi there Jenny: your health care provider will be the best source of information to advise whether (and what type) of supplement is appropriate for you. For more information, please visit: https://www.psoriasis.org/treating-psoriasis/complementary-and-alternative/diet-and-nutrition/vitamins-and-supplements.


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