Vitamin D is not only good for your bones – it can ease psoriasis

We all know vitamin D helps strengthen your bones and muscles. It’s also very good for your skin, which is why Australian and New Zealand researchers looked at its potential effects on psoriasis. They reported that increasing the amount of vitamin D in your body could help ease the symptoms of plaque psoriasis.

Psoriasis is the term for a group of chronic diseases that affect the skin. They cause skin cells to grow so fast that they create scales and plaques, which are irritating at best and painful at worst.

While the origins of psoriasis remain unknown, experts believe they are related to faulty immune systems. This is where vitamin D comes in. (Related: Oregon grape extract: A natural treatment for psoriasis.)

Vitamin D is known to reduce the proliferation of malignant cells, improves the ability of immune responses to differentiate between healthy and unhealthy cells, and modulates the immune system. While we can get it from animal sources and supplements, our bodies naturally produce it when ultraviolet light hits our skin.

The vitamin D produced by our skin is converted into the active hormone 25-hydroxyvitamin D, which is abbreviated as 25(OH)D. Earlier studies have shown that low levels of this serum are associated with increased risk of psoriasis.

Researchers from Massey University (Massey) in New Zealand investigated the possibility of raising serum 25(OH)D levels to reduce the symptoms of psoriasis. They theorized that vitamin D3 supplements would be a good way to boost serum levels.

Plaque psoriasis patients take vitamin D supplements in experiment

For their experiment, Massey researchers gathered 101 psoriasis patients. All of the volunteers were at least 19 years old and were experiencing plaque psoriasis.

Each volunteer was given 200,000 International Units (IU) of cholecalciferol as a baseline of measurement. That translated to five milligrams of vitamin D3 supplements every month.

The volunteers were split into two groups. The supplement group had 67 members and took 100,000 IU (2.5 mg) of vitamin D supplements every month for 11 months. The 34 remaining participants served as the placebo group.

Researchers recorded the Psoriasis Area and Severity Index (PASI) and the level of the serum 25(OH)D for each participant. They measured these during the start of the trial as well as on the third, sixth, ninth, and 12th months afterward.

The researchers focused on two primary outcomes. The first is any difference in PASI between the groups during the trial. The second is the correlation between PASI and 25(OH)D that took place over time.

Increasing levels of vitamin D in body shown to alleviate symptoms of plaque psoriasis

Their findings suggested that there was a notable inverse correlation between 25(OH)D levels and PASI score. Increasing the serum 25(OH)D levels by increments of 25 to 125 nanomoles per liter (nmol/L) resulted in a minor reduction of PASI.

There was no difference in the PASI scores of the two groups. The treatment group reported that 11.9 percent of its members enjoyed at least 50 percent improvement regarding their psoriasis, while 11.8 percent of the placebo group reported similar beneficial effects.

The primary difference was in the mean levels of 25(OH)D. The treatment group registered a significant increase in vitamin D serum levels during the third month of the trial. In contrast, the placebo group only displayed a similar improvement during the sixth month.

In conclusion, the Massey researchers noted that the vitamin D concentrations (200,000 IU baseline and monthly intake of 100,000 IU) seen in the study resulted in minor improvements to psoriasis. Higher levels of vitamin D supplementation could result in greater benefits.

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