In a perfect world, with a perfect eating plan, every person would consume just the right amount of a variety of healthy foods to ensure their macro- and micronutrient needs were met. But this doesn’t really sound realistic, does it? Depending on so many factors, such as the foods you enjoy, grew up around, and have access to, you may experience a deficiency in one or more nutrients at some point in your life.
Nutritional deficiencies that occur from inadequate micronutrient intake have been called “hidden hungers” — your body is getting enough calories, but not enough nutrition. And when you’re living with a chronic condition such as psoriasis, deficiencies can worsen your symptoms and keep your skin and immune system from healing. So which vitamins help with psoriasis? Which ones should you make sure you’re getting enough of to promote healthy, healing skin? We’re glad you asked. Let’s discuss which vitamins can boost and bolster your body against the stress of psoriasis. (Source)
The Low-Down on Vitamins
There are 29 vitamins and minerals with daily recommended amounts that adults should consume every day. These micronutrients can mostly be obtained by eating a varied and balanced diet, yet nutritional gaps are all too common among the general population. And these gaps can add up — over a lifetime, being deficient in one or more nutrients may lead to serious health issues when your body’s systems consistently lack what they need to function optimally. (Source)
Of the 29 necessary and known vitamins and minerals, 13 of those are vitamins, and they can be broken down into 2 different categories: fat-soluble vitamins and water-soluble vitamins. The fat-soluble type includes vitamins A, D, E, and K, which dissolve in fat and accumulate in your body. Vitamin C and the B vitamins need to dissolve in water before the body can absorb them, so any excess is excreted through urine. (Source, Source)
For more details on these important micronutrients, you’ll find everything you’re looking for in WellTheory’s Ultimate Guide to Vitamins and Minerals. But for now, we’ll focus on a few key nutrients that are particularly important when it comes to skin health and managing your psoriasis.
Which Vitamins Help With Psoriasis?
When talking about supplements and the separation of individual vitamins from a more wholesome food source, keep in mind that dietary supplements are not regulated by the FDA and can vary widely in their potency and quality from brand to brand. Your health care provider should be clued in on any supplements you’re taking, or if you plan to include vitamins in your treatment plan. There are effective ways to get most of the nutrients you need from diet alone, so working closely with your provider or a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner to determine any deficiencies and how to address them holistically is a crucial step along your psoriasis journey. (Source, Source)
Next, we’ll hop right into discussing the vitamins that help with psoriasis — how vitamins A, C, D, and E give your skin the building blocks to protect and heal itself when faced with a chronic, inflammatory skin disease like psoriasis.
Vitamin A, a fat-soluble vitamin, is a vital part of your skin’s immunity. Deficiency in vitamin A can make you more susceptible to skin infections and inflammatory skin diseases, such as psoriasis. Vitamin A helps maintain the skin’s homeostasis, or state of balance, and promote immune function in the skin by regulating different skin cells and their response to external stimuli. (Source)
Keratinocytes, the predominant skin cells found in the epidermis (the outer layer of the skin), are kept healthy when your body receives normal amounts of vitamin A. But when vitamin A intake is either deficient or excessive, this can lead to abnormal cell function in keratinocytes. Plaque psoriasis, the most common type of psoriasis, is characterized by this abnormal cell function, which causes scaly patches, or plaques, to form on the skin. (Source, Source)
Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, is a powerful water-soluble vitamin needed by the skin in high amounts for the variety of roles it plays. Vitamin C helps to form collagen and the skin barrier, counteracts oxidation to heal the skin, and protects against damage from UV rays. (Source)
The biggest benefit of adequate vitamin C intake is obvious in wound healing. Vitamin C is necessary for reducing inflammation at wound sites and for producing more collagen to repair skin damage, which makes it a useful vitamin both applied topically and ingested. Vitamin C’s anti-inflammatory properties have been shown in clinical studies to improve skin appearance, and with psoriasis vitamin C specifically helps to restore normal functioning in keratinocytes. (Source, Source, Source)
Vitamin D, another fat-soluble vitamin, is produced by your skin and the sun — how cool is that? When your skin receives the right wavelengths of light, vitamin D is synthesized in the epidermal skin layer by converting a specific type of cholesterol in skin cells into this helpful and necessary vitamin. And because there are only a few natural, unfortified foods that contain sufficient amounts of vitamin D, this is your body’s way of ensuring you have enough of this key nutrient. (Source)
Vitamin D is strongly linked with skin immunity because of its ability to suppress the immune response in skin inflammation, making it a viable treatment for psoriasis. Vitamin D treatments for psoriasis typically take 2 forms: light therapy, also called phototherapy, which requires direct exposure to light wavelengths that promote vitamin D synthesization; or high dosage supplements to boost serum vitamin D levels. Your health care team can help you determine if this treatment option will help you on your journey to healing your skin. (Source)
And now we come to vitamin E, a fat-soluble vitamin that’s important for skin health. In a review of six studies that looked at serum vitamin E levels in people who had psoriasis, the findings showed that compared to a control group, people with psoriasis had significantly lower levels of vitamin E in their blood. Like vitamin C, vitamin E helps reduce oxidative stress and inflammation in the skin, and also has a protective response to immune reactions. Many lotions contain vitamin E, making it another nutrient that can benefit your skin both when applied topically and when included in your diet. (Source, Source)
4 Ways to Give Your Body a Boost
Now that you know how important vitamins A, C, D, and E are for skin health, you may be ready to stock up on those individual supplements, or take a multivitamin (MVM) to get a combination of those 4 vitamins and more in one dose. And you wouldn’t be alone in your thinking: Nearly half of U.S. adults take a MVM, making them the most frequently used dietary supplement. While multivitamins aren’t likely to pose a health risk for those who take them, there’s currently no evidence that they help prevent chronic diseases. (Source)
But thankfully, there are many habits and daily choices that can help prevent chronic diseases and are supported by scientific proof. Instead of honing in on a specific vitamin to replenish your body’s supply, taking a broader, more holistic approach can provide numerous benefits for healthy skin and whole-body wellness. Here are 4 ways to give your autoimmunity and psoriasis symptoms a boost.
1. Up Your Antioxidant Intake
Did you know that vitamins A, C, and E are also considered antioxidants? As we said before, these vitamins protect against the detrimental effects of free radicals, which cause oxidative stress and intensify the development of plaques and inflammation in psoriasis.
When you’re living with psoriasis, it’s recommended that you consume foods that are antioxidant-rich — which turn out to be mainly vegetables! Below is a short list of foods that contain vitamins A, C, and E, and are ready to be incorporated into your healthy eating plan:
vitamin A: fatty fish, liver, cheese, eggs, and butter
vitamin E: vegetable oils, nuts, sunflower seeds, and wheat germ
These foods, combined with others that are high in carotenoids and flavonoids (think of more colorful vegetables, legumes, red wine, coffee, and tea), have been shown to improve skin lesions. By eating more antioxidants, you’re giving your body the nutrients it needs to heal your psoriasis from the inside out. (Source)
2. Consider a Mediterranean Diet
Staying on the theme of healthy foods, research points to keeping psoriasis under control by following a Mediterranean diet — a diet rich in fish, fruits and vegetables (hello again, antioxidants!), legumes, whole grains, nuts, and olive oil. One study found that people with this condition who consumed these foods experienced fewer severe psoriasis flare-ups. Many of these foods have anti-inflammatory effects to help regulate that over-reactive response. (Source)
We can’t all move to Greece and eat fresh-caught fish with extra-virgin olive oil for dinner every evening, but you can still take your diet to the Mediterranean by making simple changes when and where it makes sense for you.
Have a breakfast of farm-fresh omega-3 rich eggs with fresh fruit and a handful of nuts, instead of a pancake with bacon.
Drizzle some greens with olive oil as an appetizer at lunch time, and get some protein in by snacking on hummus with sliced veggies.
Satisfy your post-dinner sweet tooth with natural sugars from fruit, which have more fiber and antioxidants than a highly processed treat.
You may see improvement in your psoriasis symptoms during the longer days of summer, because more ultraviolet light from the sun helps your body synthesize vitamin D, also known as the “sunshine vitamin.” Being outside and increasing your sun exposure can have a positive effect on your skin health, as long as you’re doing it smartly. Using sunscreen to prevent sunburn and wearing breathable, light-colored clothing to reflect heat and prevent chafing are 2 easy ways to enjoy the sunshine without worsening your symptoms. (Source, Source)
But summer doesn’t last forever, and you’ll still need to keep up your vitamin D levels during the less sunny seasons, too. Some dietary options for consuming vitamin D include cod liver oil, salmon, canned tuna fish, egg yolks, and beverages such as milk and orange juice that have been fortified with vitamin D. If you believe your diet and limited light exposure is leaving you with a vitamin D deficiency, talk to your health care provider about checking your serum level and, if necessary, utilizing supplementation or phototherapy to achieve optimal healing for your skin. (Source)
4. Cultivate Supportive Relationships
Psoriasis, and truly any autoimmune disease, can feel like a long and lonely journey to take on as you navigate the different stages of your condition. But with the help of a caring community, the healthiest version of yourself is within reach. So who’s there for you, in times of remission and flares?
Maybe your family members make up all the support you need, or you have long-time friends you can rely on. No matter who you turn to, research shows how important relationships and a social support system are to your overall health. A deep conversation with a loved one, where you’re listened to and understood, is a healing and meaningful way to boost your health — no vitamin supplement required.
The Bottom Line on Which Vitamins Help With Psoriasis
Your body needs micronutrients, such as vitamins and minerals, in certain amounts to keep your systems and cells functioning normally. Some vitamins that are particularly important to skin health and can help with symptoms of psoriasis are A, C, D, and E, which have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Getting enough of these vitamins through the foods you eat is possible, especially when those foods are nutrient-dense, wholesome choices. Applying topical treatments or taking oral supplements that contain these vitamins may also improve your symptoms and skin health.
WellTheory is in your corner to give you personalized autoimmune care to fill in gaps you might have experienced in the conventional medical system. And when your psoriasis treatments also include cultivating positive relationships with your support system and care team, you’re well on your way to living a life of balance and ease by taking care of your autoimmunity in a well-rounded way.