Vitamin D could provide psoriasis relief

March 19, 2018, Massey University
A new study indicates some people with psoriasis might see an improvement in their symptoms from taking a vitamin D supplement, particularly in the colder months. Credit: Massey University

New research suggests increasing vitamin D intake could reduce the symptoms of chronic inflammatory skin condition psoriasis.

Psoriasis is a relatively common condition, affecting an estimated two to four per cent of the population. It is characterised by reddened, raised, scaly patches of skin, which commonly occur on the elbows, knees and scalp but can affect any part of the body. Psoriasis can develop at any age and tends to be a lifelong condition.  For many people, it fluctuates in extent and severity, and can be challenging to manage despite the array of treatments on offer.

The Massey University study aimed to determine whether vitamin D supplementation improves psoriasis when compared with those taking placebo capsules. Dr Michelle Ingram, who conducted the research as part of her PhD in Nutritional Science says, "This study was partly motivated by observations that some people with psoriasis report a reduction in symptoms during the summer months, when vitamin D production in the skin is usually at its highest. Vitamin D incorporated into a cream or ointment is also a relatively effective treatment for psoriasis, yet no one had looked into whether vitamin D supplementation might be of similar benefit."

The main findings of the study were inconclusive due to an unexpected increase in vitamin D levels in the placebo group, probably from sunlight. However, Dr Ingram says further analysis across data from the 101 participants in the study showed strong evidence of a link between higher levels of vitamin D and less severe psoriasis. 

"Interestingly, this relationship was only found in about two-thirds of our participants, suggesting that vitamin D may be beneficial for some people with psoriasis, yet make no difference for others. It was not clear from our data why there might have been a difference in response – understanding the variability of response to psoriasis treatments in general is a long-term challenge and one that future research will hopefully be able to address," she says.

Associate Professor Pamela von Hurst, who supervised the research, says the cause of psoriasis remains relatively mysterious, and treating this disease has long been a source of great frustration for patients and the medical profession.

"The range of treatment options are varied, impact different people in various ways and many of the complexities of the disease are yet to be uncovered," she says. "Research involving vitamin D supplementation also poses some challenges, as vitamin D levels are primarily influenced by sun exposure. However, the collective impact of psoriasis, which is undoubtedly significant, meant it was important to go ahead with this research. While we could not confirm whether vitamin D supplementation is beneficial for psoriasis per se, we have shown that increased vitamin D levels, which can be achieved through supplementation or sun exposure, are related to less . This indicates that some people with psoriasis might see an improvement in their symptoms from taking a vitamin D supplement, particularly in the colder months," Dr von Hurst says.

The study, funded by a Lottery Health Research grant, involved participants with varying degrees of psoriasis, (mild, moderate or severe) and showed statistically significant improvements in the group taking vitamin D , as well as in the group taking placebos, over a one year period. There was also a statistically significant relationship between higher vitamin D levels and PASI (Psoriasis Area and Severity Index) score across the whole group of participants.

Oral D3 supplementation for chronic plaque : A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial was published in the Journal of Dermatological Treatment last month.

Explore further: Patient's psoriasis improves with initiation of hepatitis C therapy

More information: Michelle A. Ingram et al. Oral vitamin D3 supplementation for chronic plaque psoriasis: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, Journal of Dermatological Treatment (2018). DOI: 10.1080/09546634.2018.1444728

Related Stories

Patient's psoriasis improves with initiation of hepatitis C therapy

January 15, 2018
Researchers report the first case of a patient whose psoriasis improved when therapy for his hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection was initiated. Findings from a brief case report are published in Annals of Internal Medicine.

Psoriasis is independent risk factor for comorbidity in children

January 11, 2018
(HealthDay)—Children with psoriasis have an increased risk of comorbidities compared to children without psoriasis, independent of obesity, according to a study published online Jan. 10 in JAMA Dermatology.

Relief from red, itchy skin: Unraveling the secrets of vitamin D

May 12, 2011
Vitamin D helps to reduce the inflammation associated with psoriasis, a common skin condition that causes red, itchy patches on the skin, shows a new study.

Psoriasis and psychiatric illnesses—what are the links?

August 11, 2017
A new review examines the potential link between psoriasis and mental health conditions.

Secukinumab effective for moderate / severe scalp psoriasis

September 29, 2017
(HealthDay)—Secukinumab is safe and effective as a treatment for patients with extensive moderate-to-severe scalp psoriasis, according to a study published in the October issue of the Journal of the American Academy of ...

Severe psoriasis predominantly affects men

March 24, 2017
The fact that men are overrepresented in psoriasis registers and consume more psoriasis care have long led researchers to believe that the common skin disease disproportionally affects men. A unique study with 5,438 Swedish ...

Recommended for you

Research finds new mechanism that can cause the spread of deadly infection

April 20, 2018
Scientists at the University of Birmingham have discovered a unique mechanism that drives the spread of a deadly infection.

Selection of a pyrethroid metabolic enzyme CYP9K1 by malaria control activities

April 20, 2018
Researchers from LSTM, with partners from a number of international institutions, have shown the rapid selection of a novel P450 enzyme leading to insecticide resistance in a major malaria vector.

Study predicts 2018 flu vaccine will have 20 percent efficacy

April 19, 2018
A Rice University study predicts that this fall's flu vaccine—a new H3N2 formulation for the first time since 2015—will likely have the same reduced efficacy against the dominant circulating strain of influenza A as the ...

Low-cost anti-hookworm drug boosts female farmers' physical fitness

April 19, 2018
Impoverished female farm workers infected with intestinal parasites known as hookworms saw significant improvements in physical fitness when they were treated with a low-cost deworming drug. The benefits were seen even in ...

Zika presents hot spots in brains of chicken embryos

April 19, 2018
Zika prefers certain "hot spots" in the brains of chicken embryos, offering insight into how brain development is affected by the virus.

Super-superbug clones invade Gulf States

April 18, 2018
A new wave of highly antibiotic resistant superbugs has been found in the Middle East Gulf States, discovered by University of Queensland researchers.

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

megamarc1
not rated yet Mar 19, 2018
Sun exposure is recommended by some dermatologists as a cure for both psoriasis and eczema. In some cases, nearly 100% are cured by sun exposure. It is the sunlight that cures the diseases, not the vitamin D. Vitamin D is simply a surrogate measurement for sun exposure. Vitamin D is wonderful, but it is only one of many curative photoproducts such as nitric oxide, endorphins, serotonin and BDNF. Holistic practice would suggest that we should use the entire package of photoproducts to heal diseases rather than fractionating the sun's benefits.
More information: sunlightinstitute.org

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.