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. For this reason, doctors often prescribe topical forms of vitamin D derivatives that can be beneficial for some patients. 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. It is important that patients talk to their doctors before taking vitamin D supplements to avoid excessive levels.
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.
In some patients, certain vitamins and supplements may be beneficial for psoriasis when used orally or topically.
Some of these dietary supplements are promising, but rigorous research studies are needed to know which patients would benefit the most from these vitamins and supplements.
Patients should always consult with their doctors before starting any vitamin or supplement, as some of these may interact with other medications and/or have side effects.
For further reading on Psoriasis and supplementation, click on the following article links:
* This Website is for general skin beauty, wellness, and health information only. This Website is not to be used as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment of any health condition or problem. The information provided on this Website should never be used to disregard, delay, or refuse treatment or advice from a physician or a qualified health provider.
Debbaneh M, Millsop JW, Bhatia BK, et al. Diet and psoriasis, part I: Impact of weight loss interventions. J Am Acad Dermatol.2014;71(1):133-140; PMID: 24709272 Link to research.
Bruno MC, Vilela MA, Oliveira CA. Study on dermatoses and their prevalence in groups of confirmed alcoholic individuals in comparison to a non-alcoholic group of individuals. An Bras Dermatol.2013;88(3):368-375; PMID: 23793198 Link to research.
Soleymani T, Hung T, Soung J. The role of vitamin D in psoriasis: a review. Int J Dermatol.2015;54(4):383-392; PMID: 25601579 Link to research.
Barrea L, Savanelli MC, Di Somma C, et al. Vitamin D and its role in psoriasis: An overview of the dermatologist and nutritionist. Rev Endocr Metab Disord.2017;18(2):195-205; PMID: 28176237 Link to research.
Tremezaygues L, Reichrath J. Vitamin D analogs in the treatment of psoriasis: Where are we standing and where will we be going? Dermatoendocrinol.2011;3(3):180-186; PMID: 22110777 Link to research.
Ingram MA, Jones MB, Stonehouse W, et al. Oral vitamin D3 supplementation for chronic plaque psoriasis: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. J Dermatolog Treat.2018;10.1080/09546634.2018.1444728:1-10; PMID: 29480035 Link to research.
Perez A, Raab R, Chen TC, et al. Safety and efficacy of oral calcitriol (1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3) for the treatment of psoriasis. Br J Dermatol.1996;134(6):1070-1078; PMID: 8763427 Link to research.
Hu FB. Plant-based foods and prevention of cardiovascular disease: an overview. Am J Clin Nutr.2003;78(3 Suppl):544S-551S; PMID: 12936948 Link to research.
Ristic-Medic D, Perunicic-Pekovic G, Rasic-Milutinovic Z, et al. Effects of dietary milled seed mixture on fatty acid status and inflammatory markers in patients on hemodialysis. ScientificWorldJournal.2014;2014:563576; PMID: 24578648 Link to research.
Swanson D, Block R, Mousa SA. Omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA: health benefits throughout life. Adv Nutr.2012;3(1):1-7; PMID: 22332096 Link to research.
Upala S, Yong WC, Theparee T, et al. Effect of omega-3 fatty acids on disease severity in patients with psoriasis: A systematic review. Int J Rheum Dis.2017;20(4):442-450; PMID: 28261950 Link to research.
Mantzorou M, Pavlidou E, Vasios G, et al. Effects of curcumin consumption on human chronic diseases: A narrative review of the most recent clinical data. Phytother Res.2018;10.1002/ptr.6037PMID: 29468820 Link to research.
Heng MC, Song MK, Harker J, et al. Drug-induced suppression of phosphorylase kinase activity correlates with resolution of psoriasis as assessed by clinical, histological and immunohistochemical parameters. Br J Dermatol.2000;143(5):937-949; PMID: 11069500 Link to research.
Antiga E, Bonciolini V, Volpi W, et al. Oral Curcumin (Meriva) Is Effective as an Adjuvant Treatment and Is Able to Reduce IL-22 Serum Levels in Patients with Psoriasis Vulgaris. Biomed Res Int.2015;2015:283634; PMID: 26090395 Link to research.
Carrion-Gutierrez M, Ramirez-Bosca A, Navarro-Lopez V, et al. Effects of Curcuma extract and visible light on adults with plaque psoriasis. Eur J Dermatol.2015;25(3):240-246; PMID: 26066761 Link to research.
Kurd SK, Smith N, VanVoorhees A, et al. Oral curcumin in the treatment of moderate to severe psoriasis vulgaris: A prospective clinical trial. J Am Acad Dermatol.2008;58(4):625-631; PMID: 18249471 Link to research.
Prasad S, Tyagi AK, Aggarwal BB. Recent developments in delivery, bioavailability, absorption and metabolism of curcumin: the golden pigment from golden spice. Cancer Res Treat.2014;46(1):2-18; PMID: 24520218 Link to research.
Talbott W, Duffy N. Complementary and alternative medicine for psoriasis: what the dermatologist needs to know. Am J Clin Dermatol.2015;16(3):147-165; PMID: 25904522 Link to research.
Del Duca E, Farnetani F, De Carvalho N, et al. Superiority of a vitamin B12-containing emollient compared to a standard emollient in the maintenance treatment of mild-to-moderate plaque psoriasis. Int J Immunopathol Pharmacol.2017;30(4):439-444; PMID: 29048238 Link to research.