Psoriasis is a skin condition that causes painful flare-ups of dry and flaky skin. These relapses occur due to the overproduction and shedding of skin cells. Psoriasis can be diagnosed by a dermatologist on a physical exam or biopsy.
Although there is currently no cure for psoriasis, there are several ways it can be treated and managed. People with psoriasis may seek topical treatments, light therapies, and oral or injected medications.
Since psoriasis is an autoimmune disease, it is important to maintain your overall health to limit inflammatory triggers. Monitoring the variety and dosage of vitamins in your diet is a great way to understand your overall health.
While there is no evidence that increasing vitamin intake cures psoriasis, some studies show that adding vitamins to other treatments can relieve symptoms.
There can be a ripple effect between the state of our general health and the severity of the conditions we are exposed to. Eating a diet high in a variety of vitamins is an easy way to ensure a solid health foundation in fighting psoriasis. In addition, many vitamins and nutrients rely on each other to work at full efficiency.
It is helpful to understand what your current vitamin intake is by getting a blood test from a doctor. Use your blood test results and some of the tips below to help you figure out which vitamins you could use more of.
There are two main groups associated with vitamin A: retinoids and carotenoids.
While retinoids are known for their skin care benefits, they are also prescribed orally or topically for psoriasis.
According to an older study from 2011, people with psoriasis have less vitamin A in their skin, especially carotenoids, than people without psoriasis.
Although more study is needed to understand the relationship between psoriasis and vitamin A, implementing more vitamin A in your diet could improve psoriasis symptoms. Foods high in vitamin A include:
- Sweet potatoes
- egg yolk
Biotin (B-7) and B12 have been found to improve symptoms of psoriasis.
Biotin deficiency is rare and has not been directly linked to healing psoriasis. Aside from that, biotin supplements can help create a healthy foundation for skin health. You may find that biotin supplements that support healthy cell growth help relieve symptoms.
Vitamin B12 is a powerful topical treatment for psoriasis. Studies have shown that B12 deficiency in the body can be linked to psoriasis. B12 is found in most animal products, but vegetarians can likely find plant-based foods that are fortified with B12.
Oxidative stress occurs when the body shows an imbalance between free radical activity and antioxidant activity. Oxidative stress has been found to increase in the body while fighting psoriasis. It has been found that there is more vitamin C in the body to control oxidation in the body.
A case study of a participant with severe psoriasis found that increased vitamin C levels (along with other dietary changes) eradicated the person’s psoriasis within 6 months. More research is needed to see if dietary vitamin C can improve symptoms of psoriasis.
Vitamin D is produced by the body when it is exposed to the sun and is vital to our overall health. Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to psoriasis, although no direct link has been established.
One of the greatest benefits of vitamin D is its immune-boosting power. People with psoriasis can benefit from keeping their immune systems as healthy as possible in order to improve their autoimmune response.
If you want to increase your vitamin D intake, consider taking an oral supplement, safely getting more sun exposure, and eating foods like:
- egg yolk
- oily fish
- fortified cereals
Several other nutrients contribute to the health of our skin, body, and joints.
Omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation in the body while improving the immune system. This makes them a great candidate supplement for people with psoriasis. This nutrient is most readily available in fish oil capsules, but can also be found in:
- Vegetable oils
- Nuts and seeds
Glucosamine and chondroitin
One symptom of psoriasis is psoriatic arthritis. It is known that glucosamine and chondroitin promote cartilage elasticity, formation, repair and cartilage breakdown in the body. Supplementing with these nutrients can help relieve some of the arthritic symptoms associated with psoriasis.
Initial studies have shown that MSM can help fight inflammation and joint pain. These symptoms are often associated with psoriasis. Although more research is needed to confirm the link between MSM and psoriasis symptoms, MSM is considered a safe sulfur-containing compound available in supplement form.
There are several considerations to make before committing to any diet or nutritional changes.
Talk to a doctor before taking or taking any vitamins, especially if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or planning to become pregnant.
While taking vitamin supplements will have positive effects on your overall health and symptoms of psoriasis, it is not a substitute for the treatment your doctor gives you.
Supplements are not strictly regulated by the FDA. They may contain ingredients that are not listed on the label or ingredients in percentages other than those stated on the label. Always buy supplements from a reputable dealer and take them according to product instructions.
Maintaining a healthy dose of vitamins in your body can be extremely beneficial for the overall health of your skin. Our skin is cared for by vitamins that promote healthy cell growth and turnover and have anti-inflammatory properties.
Diet supplements can be a great way to fill in the gaps in our diet when purchased from reputable manufacturers and used properly. Even so, it is recommended that you improve your diet before moving on to the supplements.
Vitamins and nutrients are most effective in their natural form, where they’re accompanied by hundreds of helpful non-essential nutrients that your supplements may not contain.
If you are lacking nutrients, you should speak to a nutritionist to find out how to incorporate a more balanced diet into your daily life.
Although psoriasis has no cure, its symptoms are generally managed under the supervision of a dermatologist with the following treatments:
- light therapy. Some people with psoriasis see benefits from short-term exposure to natural and artificial light directly on the affected area.
- Topical therapy. Applying prescription ointments, creams, gels, and lotions to the affected area can help alleviate and improve symptoms.
- Injected drugs. For cases of mild to severe psoriasis, steroid shots and prescription oral medications have been found to relieve symptoms
If you find that your skin is going through cycles of flaking, redness, cracking, itching, and pain, make an appointment with a family doctor or dermatologist as soon as possible before changing your diet or taking any supplements.
It can take months for the benefits of diet change to show any signs of improvement. A doctor can help you find immediate or short-term relief.
While there is no cure for psoriasis, there are many ways to make living with psoriasis more comfortable and easier.
A healthy diet rich in vitamins is beneficial to both skin health and overall health. Supplements can help too, but see a doctor first.
Building a strong immune system, reducing exposure to inflammatory triggers, and developing a baseline for skin health are all great ways to make sure psoriasis symptoms don’t get worse.