Did you know there’s a connection between psoriasis and Vitamin D?
Yes, that vitamin you can only get from the sun and supplements can actually help manage psoriasis symptoms. The essential nutrient is important for many functions of the body. However, we’re going to explore just how Vitamin D can affect psoriasis in a positive way.
Vitamin D is a key nutrient for bone health. Those with a Vitamin D deficiency often experienced rickets and osteomalacia. However, recent research shows benefits of this nutrient go way beyond bone health.
According to the Office of Dietary Supplements, National Institutes of Health, Vitamin D is important for calcium absorption in the gut and maintaining healthy levels of calcium and phosphorus. Therefore, it promotes bone and muscle health.
Vitamin D also plays a major role in the following:
- Immune system response
- Reducing inflammation
- Promoting cell growth
- Maintaining a healthy nervous system
The nutrient also modulates many genes that control important cell functions. Furthermore, many bodily tissues have Vitamin D receptors.
It’s biologically inert and goes through two intermediate steps. The first is in the liver. The second in the kidney for activation. The physiologically active form is calcitriol, or 1,25(OH)2D. More than an essential nutrient, Vitamin D acts more like a hormone. In fact, it’s considered a steroid with hormone-like activity.
Psoriasis and Vitamin D
Since Vitamin D plays major roles in modulating the immune system, inflammation and skin health, individuals with psoriasis should make sure they have healthy levels of this nutrient.
People with psoriasis should make sure they have healthy levels of Vitamin D.
The nutrient plays a major role in modulating the immune system, inflammation, and skin health. The epidermis, the superficial layer of the skin, naturally produces Vitamin D when exposed to ultraviolet rays.
Many research studies found an association between Vitamin D deficiency and psoriasis. Since Vitamin D is so important in the formation and growth of keratinocyte skin cells, it can manage psoriasis. A hallmark of psoriasis is an abnormal growth of keratinocytes, along with inflammation and immune response in the skin.
Increasing Vitamin D with Phototherapy
The first-line therapy for moderate to severe psoriasis is phototherapy. The treatment is so effective for psoriasis because it increases Vitamin D levels.
Phototherapy involves either controlled exposure to sunlight or ultraviolet B radiation using devices. In both cases, UVB light triggers the formation of Vitamin D in the skin.
Taking Vitamin D Supplements for Psoriasis
Multiple studies confirmed an association between psoriasis and Vitamin D deficiency. Studies also reported an improvement in psoriasis with Vitamin D supplements. We need more research to fully understand the connection and how the nutrient helps.
You can check your levels of Vitamin D through readily available tests. Vitamin D supplements are also very cost-effective and available in any pharmacy.
Synthetic Vitamin D is a more expensive supplement option. It is available by prescription and is a common drug to manage psoriasis.
People at Risk of Vitamin D Deficiency
To no surprise, Vitamin D deficiency is a global epidemic. About one billion people suffer from insufficiency or deficiency in the vitamin.
To obtain 10,000 IU of Vitamin D, you must spend 20-30 minutes in the sun with most of your body uncovered without sunscreen. When done every day, you should have normal levels of the vitamin. However, this is easier said than done.
So, who is at risk of developing a Vitamin D deficiency?
Darker skin requires more sun exposure. This is because melanocytes, the cells that produce pigment, act as sun blockers. Therefore, they require more sun exposure.
Other groups of people who develop lower than normal levels of Vitamin D include:
- Those with kidney problems
- Those with digestive problems
- Overweight people
- Those who have undergone bariatric surgery
While regular exposure to the sun would be ideal to improve levels, there is a concern for skin damage and cancer. In this case, supplements are the second-best option.
Talk to your doctor about evaluating and correcting Vitamin D deficiency. The best way to find the optimal dose is to check the blood levels of 1,25(OH)2D and supplement accordingly. Generally speaking, the typical dose for adults is 1,000-2,000 IU daily. The upper limit dose considered safe is 10,000 IU daily. Since Vitamin D is fat-soluble, it accumulates in the body and very high doses could become toxic.
There are some foods that contain Vitamin D. These include:
- Cod liver oil
Though their levels are low, you shouldn’t rely on them for adequate Vitamin D.
So, what is the connection between Vitamin D and psoriasis? It’s larger than you previously thought!
Vitamin D is an essential vitamin that the skin creates when exposed to the sun. It helps keep a healthy immune system, nervous system, and overall health.
Through phototherapy, the UVB lights help the skin produce more Vitamin D and manage psoriasis symptoms.
If you struggle with psoriasis, check your Vitamin D levels and supplement accordingly.