Vitamin treatments for psoriasis
Vitamin A boosts immunity and helps improve the condition of skin and scalp while lowering the risk of psoriasis outbreaks. It also reduces inflammation and rids the skin of dryness and itchiness for psoriasis relief, healing and also plays an important role in the process of the body.
Vitamin A is needed for:
- Healthy skin and tissue
- The mucous membranes of the lungs, throat, nose and mouth
- A healthy immune system
- Healthy moist eyes and vision
- The formation of blood, bones and teeth
It is therefore essential to incorporate vitamin A into your diet. Foods which provide vitamin A are dark green/yellow vegetables and fruits, such as broccoli, spinach, turnip greens, carrots, squash, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, apricots, liver, milk, butter, cheese, and whole eggs. Taking cod liver oil is also a way of boosting your vitamin A intake. Certain vitamin derivatives such as etretinate and isotretinoin, are used in the treatment of psoriasis.
Etretinate in combination with ultraviolet B and psoralen-ultraviolet A (PUVA) has shown beneficial effects. Vitamin A derivative drugs help to normalise skin development by reducing the increased growth, turnover and keratinisation (hardening) of skin.
Long-term administration of vitamin A derivatives can result in side effects such as headaches, inflammation of the lips, conjunctivitis, and photosensitivity. Vitamin A should not be taken during pregnancy and by mothers who are breastfeeding.
It is important to consult your GP before taking vitamin A derivatives.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to decrease inflammation and psoriasis is a disease of inflammation. Omega-3 fatty acids also seem to have a positive impact on the body’s immune system. There are three types of Omega-3 fatty acids:
- Alpha—linolenic acid
- Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)
- Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)
Alpha-linolenic acid is found in some vegetable oils, nuts, seeds and soy foods. EPA and DHA are found in fatty fish and algae. Fish oil is also available in capsule form as a supplement. Some psoriasis sufferers show a deficiency of Omega-3 fatty acids and elevations of Omega-6 fatty acids, which tend to increase inflammation. Fish oil can thin your blood, however, so check with your doctor before you start taking it and especially if you are taking any blood thinning medication.
Vitamin D analogues
Sufferers of psoriasis know that sunlight can help to heal psoriasis and improve its symptoms. As sunlight stimulates vitamin D production, it is now thought its role in psoriasis relief may have to do with a mechanism related to vitamin D receptors in the skin. It is believed that vitamin D stops skin cells from overproducing, thus preventing the development of psoriasis and reducing plaques that have already developed.
The use of topical treatments and supplements are a way of absorbing vitamin D. Vitamin D can change the way cells grow. Psoriasis increases the growth of the skin’s cells , so vitamin D may slow the skin cell growth.
Before you add Vitamin D to your psoriasis regime, talk with your doctor.
Vitamin D analogues are gels, creams, ointments, and lotions and scalp solution applications that contain ingredients related to vitamin D, and are applied to the skin. These vitamin D treatments encourage normal skin cell growth and prevent the excessive growth rate that is seen in psoriasis.
A vitamin D analogue can be used in combination with another treatment for psoriasis if either treatment on its own is proving insufficient. For example, a steroid may be prescribed alongside a vitamin D topical treatment.
In humans, the natural supply of vitamin D depends on exposure to the ultraviolet rays of the sun. Therefore, some people may consider using light therapy (ultraviolet B – UVB) alongside using a vitamin D topical treatment.
The most efficient method of vitamin intake is to incorporate the vitamin into your diet. Sources of vitamin D are salmon, tuna fish (canned in water), milk (preferably non-fat), mackerel, cereals fortified with vitamin D, eggs (Vitamin D is in the yolk), Swiss cheese and puddings made with vitamin D fortified milk. Evening Primrose Oil has been reported to help ease mild symptoms of psoriasis. However, your doctor may recommend taking these vitamins in a supplement format.
Sources used in writing this article are available on request
Information contained in this Articles page has been written by talkhealth based on available medical evidence. Our evidence based articles are accredited by the PIF TICK, the only UK quality mark for trustworthy health information. The content however should never be considered a substitute for medical advice. You should always seek medical advice before changing your treatment routine. talkhealth does not endorse any specific products, brands or treatments.
Information written by the talkhealth team
Last revised: 10 January 2018
Next review: 10 January 2021