Vitamin D appears to have important effects in the skin, and it is believed that there is a link between skin conditions such as psoriasis and vitamin D deficiency. In fact, several studies found that vitamin D deficiency is common in people with chronic plaque psoriasis. The following is a small introduction to how vitamin D may affects psoriasis.  

Recently, it was found that the active form of vitamin D regulate the growth of the skin cells. It was also found that vitamin D can regulate the functions of several types of immune cells, which is important in psoriasis, where the immune system is overactive.

The role of vitamin D in the treatment of psoriasis

Due to these proven effects of vitamin D, the topical derivatives of vitamin D are considered an important therapeutic option in the treatment of psoriasis. Indeed, the topical vitamin D derivatives, calcipotriol and calcitriol are extensively used as therapy, either alone or in combination with topical steroids in the treatment of psoriasis.

Ultraviolet (UV) light therapy is another effective treatment for psoriasis and it is known that phototherapy increases the levels of active vitamin D. It has been proposed that ultraviolet B radiation might be beneficial on psoriasis at least partially by increasing the vitamin D levels in the skin.

Vitamin D may improve psoriasis symptoms

It appears that the vitamin D deficiency does not cause psoriasis by itself and although the treatment options increasing the level of vitamin D in the skin can improve the psoriasis, they don’t heal it or prevent it.

Unlike the treatments with topical vitamin D derivatives and with UV light, the treatment based on oral vitamin D supplementation remains controversial. Although the oral supplementation with vitamin D as a treatment for psoriasis was suggested some years ago, more evidence is required to demonstrate that a clear clinical benefit would be gained from this.

How do I know if I have a Vitamin D deficiency?

Even though the evidence of vitamin D supplementation remains controversial, Vitamin D deficiency should be detected and corrected in people with psoriasis. It is easy to find out if the vitamin D levels are too low by getting a simple blood test. If you feel you might have a deficiency, you can request a blood test through your doctor and if levels are found to be low, your doctor would consider supplementation with the right dose of vitamin D. However, it is important not to take supplements unless prescribed by your doctor because vitamin D can be toxic if taken in too high levels.

Resources:

  1. Vitamin D and its role in psoriasis: An overview of the dermatologist and nutritionist. Barrea L, Savanelli MC, Di Somma C, Napolitano M, Megna M, Colao A, Savastano S. Rev Endocr Metab Disord. 2017 Jun; 18(2):195-205. doi: 10.1007/s11154-017-9411-6.
  2. Serum vitamin D level – the effect on the clinical course of psoriasis. Bergler-Czop B, Brzezińska-Wcisło L, Postepy Dermatol Alergol. 2016 Dec; 33(6):445-449. doi: 10.5114/ada.2016.63883.
  3. Vitamin D Status in Patients With Chronic Plaque Psoriasis, P. Gisondi; M. Rossini; A. Di Cesare; L. Idolazzi; S. Farina, G. Beltrami; K. Peris; G. Girolomoni, The British Journal of Dermatology. 2012; 166(3):505-510.
  4. Deficiency of serum concentration of 25-hydroxyvitamin D in psoriatic patients: a case-control study. Orgaz-Molina J, Buendía-Eisman A, Arrabal-Polo MA, Ruiz JC, Arias-Santiago S, J Am Acad Dermatol. 2012 Nov; 67(5):931-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jaad.2012.01.040.



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