Psoriasis & Vitamin D Deficiency: The Ultimate Guide
As more and more people with psoriasis are switching to natural ways to treat their condition, one of the first things you need to explore is the psoriasis vitamin d deficiency connection.
Psoriasis and Vitamin D deficiency is nearly always overlooked by dermatologists when they first diagnose you with psoriasis.
This post will hopefully open your eyes to the huge benefits of using vitamin D to improve your psoriasis.
It is a quite lengthy post but here is a summary of what you will learn today
- How I stumbled upon the vitamin d3 psoriasis connection
- What is vitamin D and difference between vitamin D2 and D3?
- What are the effective forms of vitamin D?
- What are the benefits of using vitamin D/D3 other than treating your psoriasis?
- The science behind vitamin d deficiency and psoriasis
- What Medical Professionals say about psoriasis and Vitamin D Deficiency?
- How to know if you have vitamin d deficiency other than having psoriasis?
- How to test psoriasis vitamin d deficiency
- Where you can order a vitamin D level test online
- Understanding your Vitamin D test results so you can treat your psoriasis
- How much Vitamin D to take for psoriasis once you know your results
- Vitamin D and Psoriasis Success Stories
- Best Vitamin D3 Supplement for Psoriasis
So it’s time to sit back and learn why you must consider using vitamin d to treat your psoriasis.
How I stumbled upon the vitamin d3 psoriasis connection
I have been to more than 20 doctors, dermatologists and skin specialists during the early years of my psoriasis condition and NOT ONE doctor recommended that I should get my vitamin d levels checked even though I lived in a country that gets about 60 good days of sunshine a year.
The first time I knew that sun/vitamin D/D3 was a major factor in my psoriasis was when I made a journal of all the places I have lived in the world and noted how good/bad my psoriasis was. Here is a recap for you and hopefully it will make it clear to you how I spotted that vitamin D is good for psoriasis.
Below is a list of places I have lived in for more than 3 months. I rated my diet, my stress levels and my exposure to sun/vitamin d3 in those places along with the total coverage of psoriasis on my body.
To make things easier for you to see, I have just included all places where I had less than 5% coverage of psoriasis on my body.
Look at the correlation. In all cases where I had less than 5% coverage I was getting sunshine every day or taking a vitamin d3 supplement when I was not able to get natural sunlight.
One very important thing to note is that just getting sunshine alone will not eliminate your psoriasis entirely. When I lived in Malta for the first time which gets 300 days of sunshine a year, I still had 50% coverage on my body as my diet and stress levels were not under control.
What is Vitamin D?
Vitamin D also known as “sunshine vitamin” is the vitamin that you make when your skin is exposed to the rays of the sun and that can also be obtained from animal and plant based dietary supplements available online or in local pharmacies or health stores.
Vitamin D is a form of fat-soluble vitamin, which means that it is stored in the fat tissues and liver if your body has more than enough of them already.
Taking vitamin D naturally or via dietary supplements have both significant health benefits and positive effects on your body. It is responsible for the maintenance of calcium and phosphorus level in our blood and improves other bodily functions such as:
- Regulation of cell growth to normal levels
- Fighting infection
- Bone mineralization or strengthening
- Improves communication between the brain and muscles and even has a role in cancer treatments
You can get vitamin D from different kinds of food such as salmon, sardines, mushrooms, and cod liver oil.
Also, you can get Vitamin D naturally through ultraviolet light or the rays of the sun. Sun exposure for 10 to 15 minutes is a great excuse to go outside and get your vitamin D intake.
What are the effective forms of Vitamin D?
Vitamin D can be classified into two forms, D2 and D3.
Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) is the recommended and natural source of Vitamin D that your body produces out of the sunlight, and can also be obtained from animal tissue (sheep’s’ wool).
While Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) “plant-based Vitamin D” are derived from mushrooms cured with ultraviolet light. However, nutritionists recommend using D3 because of its potency.
What are the benefits of using Vitamin D/D3 other than treating your psoriasis?
Understanding Vitamin D and Its Benefits
Vitamin D plays significant roles to protect and maintain our bodily functions. It is proven to contribute in the regulation of cell growth, improvement of sensory and motor functions, and reduces tissue inflammation. Aside from these, Vitamin D also;
- Improves Fertility – Vitamin D can boost levels of progesterone and estrogen. These hormones are responsible for the regulation of menstrual cycle and improve the success of conception.
- Activates Immune Response – A study conducted by scientists at the University of Copenhagen suggested that Vitamin D plays a vital role in activation of the immune response.Before the Killer T-cells (cells that fight off infections) respond to infections, they first search for vitamin D in order to activate; and if they fail, they cannot continue to work as guards in fighting off diseases. Needless to say, vitamin deficiency can greatly disable the body’s immune response and can cause systemic infections which may contribute to the development of autoimmune disorders that could also lead to other health problems.
- Prevents Cancer – Vitamin D is associated in preventing the development of cancer cells by decreasing growth of cancer cells, reducing blood vessel formation on tumours, and stimulating cancer cell death. Also, research studies suggest that people who have more sunlight exposure and higher levels of vitamin D have lower cancer incidence and mortality rate.
- Make our bones stronger – In our gut, vitamin D promotes absorption of calcium that we get from different food sources, and supplements. The calcium that is absorbed is responsible for the normal bone growth and re-growth when we experience fractures.
- It boosts our immune system – In recent clinical trials and research studies, it is proven that vitamin D can significantly boost your immune system by increasing the production of lymphocytes (a component of our blood that fights infection) and reduces your chances of getting cardiovascular diseases, osteoporosis, cancer and cognitive impairments.
The Science behind Vitamin D Deficiency and Psoriasis
Vitamin D is associated to the improvement of different health alterations of the body by working on the regulation of cellular growth and immune response empowerment.
Since psoriasis is mainly characterized by the abnormal growth of skin cells, researchers conducted studies to find out if Vitamin D supplementation does affect psoriasis.
In Japan (British Journal of Dermatology, Oct. 1986), researchers conducted a Vitamin D and psoriasis trial to 19 affected individuals, the results yielded that within 3 weeks, 16 out of 19 or about 85% of the subject reported significant improvement on their condition.
The psoriatic plaques dramatically loosened up, became thinner and less scaly. The reason for this, as explained by medical experts:
- Vitamin D is scientifically considered to affect cell growth. With the right level of this vitamin, cellular growth is controlled causing the abnormal speed of cellular growth of psoriatic patient to stabilize.
- Vitamin D is known to affect the immune system, and because psoriasis is an act of imbalanced immune system function, it could be that vitamin D is shifting the balance in a good way.
Psoriasis is not contagious, however, we all know that it is still imperative to treat this condition to uplift self- esteem and improve overall health.
What Medical Professionals say about psoriasis and Vitamin D Deficiency?
Vitamin D is commonly associated mainly with the strengthening of your bones, but, more important, it plays a role on autoimmune conditions like psoriasis, vitiligo and respiratory problems like pneumonia.
The Journal Science Translational Medicine
On the report, medical scientists concluded that Vitamin D helps counteract the body’s immune response to inflammation (one of the major problems of psoriatic patients) that is associated with red scaly patches (plaques).
The finding—based on analysis of genetic material in skin biopsies from psoriasis patients and healthy volunteers—could lead to new therapies, report the team of researchers from the U.S. and Germany.
Dermatology Clinic of the Hospital Heliópolis and the Internal Medicine Clinic of Universidade Federal de São Paulo, BRAZIL (2008)
Clinical finding suggests that a daily maintained dose of Vitamin D is safe and effective therapeutic approach for reducing disease activity of autoimmune disorders like vitiligo and psoriasis.
The clinical condition of all psoriasis affected participants significantly improved during the treatment.
Photograph of a male participant that underwent Vitamin D treatment.
Dr Richard Gallo also states
“One of the effects of vitamin D is changing the way cells grow. Since the symptoms of psoriasis on skin include an increase of the skin’s cells, if you put something on the skin that slows growth, (it) may cause the plaques to become thinner and less scaly”.
How to know if you have vitamin D deficiency other than having psoriasis?
Symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency
The big thing that you might have if you are suffering vitamin D deficiency are immune and physical issues such as:
- Muscle and bone weakness – Vitamin D is important for bone health, muscles, and teeth. This vitamin is essential to the process of producing calcium in the body which is the main nutrient needed by our bones and other tissues.
- Emotional ups and downs or depression or anxiety–clinical findings suggest that women with lower vitamin D are more likely to be depressed or struggle with deep emotional feelings of sadness. The fact thatVitamin D stimulates sex hormones such as estrogen, (improves brain function) it is responsible to the behavior and physiological growth of females.
- Diabetes – Vitamin D makes our body more sensitive to insulin and helps in preventing leaky gut that could lead to other autoimmune disease and type 1 diabetes, various neurological conditions Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s Disease, and Ulcerative Colitis (inflammation of the colon).
- Chronic gum disease – people with low levels of vitamin D are more vulnerable to swelling, bleeding, and reddening of the gums.
- High blood pressure – Vitamin D plays vital role in controlling minerals such as potassium and magnesium to help muscle tissues to contract (heart) and keep artery walls supple and pliable. While calcium, regulates heart beat and blood vessel dilation.
- Fatigue and daytime sleepiness – individuals with musculoskeletal discomfort (linked to Vitamin D deficiency) are more likely have difficulty to produce good quality of rest and sleep that could lead to these conditions.
- Mood swings – Vitamin D is responsible for the production of serotonin production (happy hormone), which has a major impact on our mood.
- Decreased endurance – studies have shown that people with lower levels of this vitamin are less effective in performing cardiovascular exercise and strengthening exercise compared to with individuals with normal or higher levels.
If you experience one or two of these signs and symptoms provided, get your levels check to assure if you are Vitamin D deficient. You should have your vitamin D levels checked periodically and maintain it at the desired level.
How to Test Psoriasis and Vitamin D Deficiency
Vitamin D levels can only be accurately measured by drawing your blood by you (In-home test kit) or a healthcare practitioner in a medical testing facility. The blood test that you need is called a 25-hydroxy vitamin D test.
Ways to get your Vitamin D levels checked
- At your doctor’s clinic – you can directly ask your doctor to order a laboratory evaluation to assess your levels. There is another type of test to measure your vitamin D (1,25 (OH) 2D), but the recommended and accurate one that will tell you if your level is adequate is 25-hydroxy vitamin D test.
- Online laboratory website – In the United Kingdom and the United states, websites offer diagnostic examinations where you can have the procedure straight in a laboratory clinic without requiring your doctor’s order. You can sign-up through their sites and be scheduled on when to go to their testing facility.
- In-home test kits – these kits are ordered online or on other accredited medical facility, and are sent to your doorsteps. In this way, you will take your blood by pricking on your fingers and placing drops of blood in a blotter paper, then you’ll send the paper to a laboratory to be tested.
Results in some organizations are posted on their websites and can be checked using your unique identification pin code included in every test package.
Where you can order a vitamin D level test online
The United States of America
Heartland Assays is a small mid-west company located in Ames, Iowa and is excited to be partnering with the Vitamin D Council in providing affordable vitamin D blood spot testing to its readers, subscribers and the general public.
The Great Plains Laboratory, Inc. (GPL) is the global leader in metabolic, environmental, and genetic testing for people with chronic illnesses and diseases. They offer a variety of clinical tests which help diagnose underlying conditions that are not routinely available through other laboratories.
ZRT is a CLIA certified diagnostic laboratory and the leader in hormone and wellness testing. They provide accurate and meaningful test results that assist healthcare providers in making informed treatment decisions. ZRT has developed and refined Vitamin D testing (both D2 and D3) in dried blood spots.
The United Kingdom
Cityassays.org.uk offer a home test kit for Vitamin D using dried blood spot technology. This work is performed in the NHS Vitamin D laboratory that also offers a national Vitamin D service for the NHS in the United Kingdom.
Understanding your Vitamin D test results so you can treat your psoriasis
Understanding the results of your vitamin D level test is important to know whether you’re getting too little or too much, and what action you might need to take. When you get your test results you will see units of ng/ml that is used universally around the world.
Results and Interpretation(Vitamin D council)
- Your level is between 0 – 10ng/ml – Severely Deficient
This means that your levels are way too low and needs immediate supplementation. In this range, you may experience decrease in mobility and muscle strength. Your health is at risk and needs immediate medical attention.
- Your level is between 10 – 20ng/ml – Mildly Deficient / Insufficient
This means that in these levels you’re more likely to develop bone problems like fractures and osteoporosis because calcium absorption is affected by vitamin D deficiency.
- Your level is between 20-30ng/ml – Deficient
In these levels, experts say that it is less likely to have health problems associated with Vitamin D. Research shows that a level of 30ng/ml can prevent bone problems such as fractures.
- Your level is between 30 – 40 ng/ml – Quite Sufficient
In these levels, vitamin D is absorbing calcium efficiently. Also, researchersfound that this range of vitamin D levels may reduce your risk of developing cancer and improve your immune response against infection.
- Your level is between 40 – 50 ng/ml – Sufficient
These levels suggest that vitamin D is working well to control your bodily functions. This range is linked to reduced risk of some cancers, better heart health and blood circulation.
- Your level is between 50 – 60 ng/ml – Standard levels
These levels are the best to aim for.
- Your level is between 60 – 80 ng/ml – High – Normal
These levels are considered as healthy and natural levels. There is no known risk in keeping your levels within these range.
- Your level is between 80 -100 ng/ml – High
These levels are above the levels that you can achieve naturally. You can only achieve this range by taking dietary supplements.
How much Vitamin D to take for psoriasis once you know your results
Once you know you Vitamin D level, you can now take supplements to cope with your deficiency. As I am not a qualified medical professional, I would strongly advise you to talk to your most trusted medical practitioner before proceeding on a course of supplementation, in order to see what your recommended daily dose is and in case you experience side effects while taking it.
Once they see your results, they will be able to look over your overall general medical history and see what the best course of action is.
As detailed below, the recommended range of vitamin D level to heal psoriatic plaques is between 70 – 100 ng/ml.
According to Grassroots Health (a public health organization), 4000 IU of vitamin D for 3 months can increase your levels from 20 ng/ml to 50 ng/ml.
Furthermore, irrespective of your existing vitamin D levels, consuming 2000 IU for 2 months theoretically would not induce harm to your health.
Recommended range of vitamin D levels to heal psoriatic plaques
- Deficient Vitamin D Level: <30 ng/ml
- Normal Vitamin D Level: 30-50 ng/ml
- Optimal Vitamin D Level: 50-70 ng/ml
- Psoriasis Healing Level: 70-100 ng/ml
- Excess Levels: >100 ng/ml
Vitamin D and Psoriasis Success Stories
From Sergie, Medical Doctor
Personal and professional story:
“As a doctor with long-standing past psoriasis, particularly on elbows, shins and scalp I am fully at ease in recommending Vitamin D for the condition. I have been practicing medicine for 45 years.
“I have been taking 4000 IU per day (I formerly had low serum Vitamin D levels). All flaking, scaling, plaques, irritation and bleeding that followed whenever I was tempted to scratch have vanished, leaving only pale residual inconsequential fading of the skin at its former sites.
“Effect on morale: terrific!”
From Arnold, Writer/blogger
“The P started to get worse again. I got a large supply of D3 and started to take 9000 IU every day. Within a week my P started to look noticeably better and in about 2 months I was 99% clear, a few small spots remained on my knees and elbows and the only joint pain I had was (and it is) in my right wrist. I took the D3 alone now, so I can say that for me it is the thing that works. I lowered the dose to 5000 IU daily, it keeps me clear. Most likely my body has a problem with the D3 synthesis from sun (sun bathing alone has never helped much), now I’ll try to figure out why and maybe I can remain clear on lower doses of D3.”
“Obviously the Vitamin D3 deficiency made my immune system function improperly and it caused Psoriasis because I have genetic predisposition for it. Many genes are associated with this genetic predisposition and no one knows how they work together, this is why this disease is so difficult to treat – different people have a different gene combination, different factors trigger their psoriasis and a different treatment works for them. I just wanted to share my story, maybe it helps someone to get rid of their psoriasis too.”
“Most people have Vitamin D3 deficiency, I suggest to everyone to check their Vitamin D3 levels (although I never did) and to consult their doctor before taking high doses of D3.Experts recommend 10 000 IU as the upper limit, so I consider the amount I take safe.”
Best Vitamin D3 Supplement for Psoriasis
Below are the top 3 best vitamin d supplements for psoriasis. We used the labdoor results which rates various vitamins using the following criteria
- Laboratory checks for false claims on the product labeling
- Product purity where they check to see if contaminated
- Nutritional value to see how it affects your diet
- Ingredient safety level
- Projected efficiency by analyzing existing clinical tests
Best Vitamin D Supplements - Product Reviews
This Vitamin D supplement is the ranked as the highest in terms of quality and grade, and has a total of 1020 UI of vitamin D3. Though it exceeds the recommended dietary allowance of 600 IU/day, it did not near the 4000 IU upper limit. Consumers experienced notable increase in energy, physical changes and overall health after taking this supplement.
Price: 2000 IU – 250 Soft Gels for $ 9.69.
Good value for money and a reliable brand, Nature’s way Vitamin D3 supplement is sealed adequately to ensure safety and freshness. It is certified free from toxic and unwanted substances such as, artificial flavoring/ color, sugar, salt, starch, trans fat, chemical solvents and it is also gluten free.
2000 IU – 120 Soft Gels
Throne is a reputable brand used by naturopaths in North America. This vitamin D supplement is in easy to swallow size capsules. The company use pure and undiluted vitamins to ensure quality and efficiency of every capsule. Available in 5000, 10,000 and 25,000 IU.
5000 IU – 60 capsules
Video on the benefits of vitamin d and how it can help your psoriasis
You can skip to 43.33 if you want to hear his results with psoriasis clinical test patients however it is worth watching all of it.
Getting tested for low levels of vitamin d should be one of your main priorities if you have psoriasis.
As you can see from the medical studies, there is a significant chance that your psoriasis will improve.
However, to control your psoriasis you must also consider what diet you adhere by as well as understanding how stress affects your condition.
For full details of how I controlled my psoriasis through diet, supplements, sun and stress management, check out my Smart Psoriasis Diet Plan eBook.
Click here to get my Smart Psoriasis Diet Plan eBookdirect to your inbox
Also if you liked this article could you please like or share on facebook or twitter using the social sharing buttons as this helps me get the word out to as many psoriasis sufferers as possible that there are drug free ways to control this incredibly frustrating skin condition.
If you are serious about getting your psoriasis under control and would like to cook psoriasis-friendly meals but lacking ideas, check out my Smart Psoriasis Diet 30 Minute Meals recipe book.