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Vitamins and Supplements for Psoriasis

Posted on March 18, 2021
See how 625 members reacted on this article
Medically reviewed by
Diane M. Horowitz, M.D.
Article written by
Erik Linklater, Ph.D.

There is growing interest in using over-the-counter dietary supplements to achieve better health outcomes, including for psoriasis. Psoriasis is a chronic, long-lasting disorder, and continual use of certain medications or therapies may lead to an increased risk of side effects. Many people, therefore, seek alternatives or complements for managing their psoriasis symptoms. Common supplements among people with psoriasis include turmeric, vitamin D, probiotics, and fish oil.

Although scientific research has not consistently found a clear connection between certain supplements and psoriasis symptom relief, understanding what options are available and their potential health benefits is worthwhile.

Remember, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approves supplements to be safe for general consumption, but it does not approve them as treatments for medical conditions. Always seek professional medical advice before adding supplements to your diet.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is one of many vitamins required for general health, helping with calcium absorption and bone health. Vitamin D is also known to be an important chemical in regulating inflammation. Because inflammation is a contributing factor to psoriasis flare-ups, some topical creams for psoriasis, such as Dovonex (calcipotriene), contain chemicals closely related to vitamin D.

Vitamin D is abundant in fortified foods and is made by the body in response to sunlight, but people with psoriasis are often vitamin D deficient. As a result, vitamin D supplementation has become an important consideration for managing psoriasis symptoms.

Several early studies showed relief of psoriasis symptoms when taking vitamin D. However, two recent studies concluded that there was little to no added benefit of vitamin D supplementation in treating psoriasis in comparison to placebo treatment. With mixed evidence, it’s difficult to say for sure whether vitamin D supplements are beneficial for psoriasis.

“I've taken the [vitamin] D supplements and they seemed to help a little,” wrote a MyPsoriasisTeam member.

Potential Risks of Vitamin D Supplementation

Vitamin D supplementation is generally safe when taking 400-800 international units (or IU) per day, depending on age. However, it has been shown to be harmful in large doses, causing nausea, constipation, and other ailments, such as harm to the kidneys.

Taking vitamin D supplements can also interfere with some medications. Vitamin D supplements may lead to risky health effects when taken in combination with:

  • Certain steroid medications
  • Heart medications
  • Psoriasis treatments like Dovonex

If you’re thinking of adding vitamin D supplements to your diet, remember to consult with your dermatologist and discuss any medications you may be taking.

Read more about vitamin D for psoriasis.

Turmeric

Turmeric is a widely used yellow spice derived from a plant in the ginger family, the root of which has been traditionally used to treat many illnesses. The main chemical compound in turmeric is curcumin, which is often sold as a dietary supplement. Consumption of up to 12 grams of curcumin per day is considered safe.

“Turmeric latte — soy milk, manuka honey, and, yes, a good helping of turmeric,” shared a MyPsoriasisTeam member. “Delicious drink before bed and great for my psoriasis.”

Turmeric has a long-standing history in the management of conditions that involve pain and inflammation. Modern studies of turmeric and curcumin support their effectiveness, as well. Three recent studies have reported that the addition of turmeric or turmeric extract to standard topical treatments led to modest improvements in clinical symptoms for participants, compared to those who received a control treatment.

Results like these are promising but do not address the benefits of turmeric as a dietary supplement. Larger and more sophisticated studies are needed to verify the use of turmeric as an effective psoriasis treatment.

Potential Risks of Taking Turmeric

Side effects from taking turmeric may include nausea and diarrhea, though turmeric is generally well tolerated. If you’re considering the addition of turmeric as a dietary supplement, make sure to consult with your health care provider first to rule out potential interactions or side effects.

Read more about turmeric for psoriasis.

Fish Oil

Another popular supplement is fish oil. Fish oil is rich in several molecules important for your health, particularly eicosapentaenoic acid (or EPA) and docosahexaenoic (DHA) omega-3 fatty acids.

“I've recently been advised to take fish oil supplements by one of my clients at work,” wrote a MyPsorasisTeam member. “Her husband suffers bad with psoriasis and by taking a fish oil supplement daily, his has cleared up!!!”

EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to have strong anti-inflammatory properties, which provide a rationale to use fish oil for the symptoms of psoriasis. Research is mixed when it comes to the benefits of fish oil supplements for psoriasis treatment, however.

Two studies in the late 1980s showed an improvement in psoriasis symptoms for patients who received omega-3 fatty acids. However, similar studies also show no improvement of symptoms with fish oil treatment for individuals with psoriasis.

Although fish oil alone may not be beneficial for psoriasis, it may be useful as a complement to other treatments. For example, in one study, when participants took oral omega-3 supplements along with a topical vitamin D treatment, they experienced better symptom improvements compared to participants who used topical treatment alone.

Potential Risks of Fish Oil

Fish oil has been shown to interact with certain blood pressure medications and contraceptives, and high doses may increase the risk of stroke. More research is needed to fully understand the benefits and potential risks associated with fish oil supplementation for psoriasis. Be sure to talk to your health care provider about fish oil or any other supplements you are thinking of taking.

Read more about omega-3 fatty acids for psoriasis.

Probiotics

One of the newest, most exciting areas of research that may be relevant to psoriasis treatment involves how microorganisms in the gut influence the health of other parts of the body, like the skin. “Probiotics” is a catch-all term for the many microscopic organisms that are beneficial for your overall health, either by making substances your body needs or by keeping other microorganisms in check.

“I would strongly recommend to everyone to eat fermented foods [or] probiotics to heal the gut ... especially those who are on antibiotics frequently,” a MyPsoriasisTeam member suggested.

In addition to being found naturally in foods such as yogurt and cheese, probiotics are available as dietary supplements. Research into using probiotic supplements for psoriasis treatment is limited, but it offers promising results.

In one case report, a woman with pustular psoriasis showed a remission of symptoms after four weeks of treatment with a probiotic supplement. Another study showed that the use of probiotics reduced symptoms of psoriasis, though it was preliminary research done in animals. More large-scale studies are needed to address the use of probiotics for treating psoriasis.

Potential Risks of Probiotics

Although probiotics may hold the potential to treat psoriasis, more work needs to be done to determine the safety and effectiveness of probiotic supplements. Remember to talk with your doctor if you are considering adding probiotic supplements to your diet.

Read more about probiotics for psoriasis.

Why Are Studies So Inconsistent?

The conflicting studies about the benefits of certain supplements can be especially frustrating for anyone seeking relief for a health condition. It could be easy to conclude that scientists simply don’t know what they’re doing. That’s certainly not the case.

What’s important to remember is that the studies and case reports mentioned here aren’t inherently flawed; they’re just different from one another. In each instance, researchers tested slightly different doses, application methods, numbers of participants, and types of psoriasis. They also use different outcome measurements to determine the effectiveness of the various supplements they studied. These differences make it difficult to draw comparisons between them all.

This doesn’t mean that supplements don’t work, or that they won’t work for you. It means that more large-scale studies need to be done before a health care provider can say with certainty which supplements work, who they would benefit from, and what those benefits may be.

If you’re thinking of trying supplements for your psoriasis — or any other reason, remember to first consult with your doctor.

Find Your Team

MyPsoriasisTeam is a community of over 89,000 people living with psoriasis. Members come together to ask questions, give advice, and share their stories with others who understand life with psoriasis.

Have you used any of these supplements to manage your psoriasis symptoms? What tips do you have to share? Leave a comment below or start a conversation on MyPsoriasisTeam.

References
  1. Psoriasis — Mayo Clinic
  2. Vitamin D — Mayo Clinic
  3. Vitamin D and Inflammatory Diseases — Journal of Inflammatory Research
  4. Psoriasis and Vitamin D Deficiency — Harvard Health Publishing
  5. An Open Study of Vitamin D3 Treatment in Psoriasis Vulgaris — British Journal of Dermatology
  6. Improvement of Psoriasis by a Topical Vitamin D3 Analogue (MC 903) in a Double‐Blind Study — British Journal of Dermatology
  7. Topical Application of 1,25-Dihydroxy Vitamin D3 (Calcitriol) Is an Effective and Reliable Therapy To Cure Skin Lesions in Psoriatic Children — European Journal of Pediatrics
  8. A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial of the Effect of Monthly Vitamin D Supplementation in Mild Psoriasis — Journal of Dermatological Treatment
  9. Oral Vitamin D3 Supplementation for Chronic Plaque Psoriasis: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial — Journal of Dermatological Treatment
  10. Dietary Behaviors in Psoriasis: Patient-Reported Outcomes from a U.S. National Survey — Dermatology and Therapy
  11. Turmeric — National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health
  12. Therapeutic Roles of Curcumin: Lessons Learned from Clinical Trials — The American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists Journal
  13. Turmeric Tonic as a Treatment in Scalp Psoriasis: A Randomized Placebo‐Control Clinical Trial — Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology
  14. Oral Curcumin (Meriva) Is Effective as an Adjuvant Treatment and Is Able to Reduce IL-22 Serum Levels in Patients with Psoriasis Vulgaris — BioMed Research International
  15. Topical Turmeric Microemulgel in the Management of Plaque Psoriasis; A Clinical Evaluation — Iranian Journal of Pharmaceutical Research
  16. Fish Oil — Mayo Clinic
  17. ω-3 Fatty Acid–Based Lipid Infusion in Patients With Chronic Plaque Psoriasis: Results of a Double-Blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled, Multicenter Trial — Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology
  18. A Double-Blind, Randomised, Placebo-Controlled Trial of Fish Oil in Psoriasis — The Lancet
  19. Effect of Dietary Supplementation With N-3 Fatty Acids on Clinical Manifestations of Psoriasis — British Journal of Dermatology
  20. The Effect of Dietary Fish Oil Supplementation on Psoriasis. Improvement in a Patient With Pustular Psoriasis — Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology
  21. Study on the Use of Omega-3 Fatty Acids as a Therapeutic Supplement in Treatment of Psoriasis — Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology
  22. Probiotics: What You Need To Know — National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health
  23. Probiotics — National Institutes of Health
  24. Pustular Psoriasis Responding to Probiotics — A New Insight — Our Dermatology Online
  25. Lactobacillus Pentosus GMNL-77 Inhibits Skin Lesions in Imiquimod-Induced Psoriasis-Like Mice — Journal of Food and Drug Analysis

A MyPsoriasisTeam Member said:

Amen

posted about 2 months ago

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Diane M. Horowitz, M.D. is an internal medicine and rheumatology specialist. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Learn more about her here.
Erik Linklater, Ph.D. has a Ph.D. in molecular biology from the University of Colorado, where he is currently a postdoctoral researcher. Learn more about him here.

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