Psoriasis is a skin condition that occurs in about 1 in 50 people, most often affecting the elbows, groin, knees, lower back and scalp. Treatment typically involves creams for your skin, but sometimes light therapy or an oral medication are prescribed. Although certain vitamins may have beneficial effects, you shouldn't take vitamin supplements without first consulting your doctor to make sure they would be safe for you.
Vitamins in Topical Treatments
A study published in November 2002 in the journal Cutis found that using a topical solution containing a form of vitamin D called calcipotriene can be helpful for treating scalp psoriasis. Other forms of vitamin D-based topical treatments include those containing calcitriol and tacalcitol. These vitamin D-based treatments are thought to slow down the growth of skin cells.
Vitamin A-based topical treatments are also available, including tazarotene, but this treatment shouldn't be used during pregnancy or breast-feeding. Tazarotene may help slow down the shedding and growth of skin cells and help limit your psoriasis symptoms, especially when used in combination with light therapy and corticosteroids.
Vitamins Taken Orally
In some cases, prescription forms of vitamins A and D are taken orally for psoriasis. These include the retinoid acitretin, which is a form of vitamin A.
Although research is limited on the benefits, some people take vitamin D supplements with the aim of limiting the inflammation caused by psoriasis.
The University of Maryland Medical Center doesn't recommend taking supplements of vitamins A or D for psoriasis, however, as they aren't in high enough amounts to be effective, and if used in combination with other vitamin-based treatments, they may result in toxicity symptoms.
Both vitamins A and D are fat-soluble vitamins, so when taken in large doses they can build up to dangerous levels in your body. Only use large amounts of vitamins A and D to treat your psoriasis if advised to do so by your doctor.
Another Potentially Beneficial Nutrient
Omega-3 fats, found in fish, soy, nuts, seeds and some vegetable oils, may help limit inflammation and other symptoms of psoriasis, but the evidence for this is still limited and conflicting. Avoid fish oil supplements if you take blood thinners, as they could increase your risk for bleeding. Eating fish at least twice a week will help you get enough omega-3 fats, especially if you choose fatty fish such as salmon, herring, tuna, mackerel and sardines.
Other Beneficial Dietary Changes
Vegetarian diets and reduced-calorie diets may help limit the symptoms of psoriasis, according to an article published in the British Journal of Dermatology in October 2005. People with psoriasis may also be more likely to be sensitive to gluten, so a gluten-free diet may be beneficial in some cases.
Avoid simple sugars, diets high in saturated fat and alcohol if you have psoriasis, recommends the University of Maryland Medical Center.