You many have heard of the skin condition known as Psoriasis and pronounced with a silent "p". It is a chronic disease of the immune system and can be very debilitating when cells build up on the surface of the skin, leading to thick and red scaly patches. These patches can be both itchy and painful. Psoriasis is surprisingly common with up to 7.5 million people in the USA having this condition while some 30% of these also develop a form of arthritis known as psoriatic arthritis. They are also at an increased risk of other chronic diseases such as eye conditions, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and/or high blood pressure - plus there can be psychological effects.
What is the vitamin that psoriasis sufferers need to take?
The vitamin is vitamin D. If you have psoriasis, it is more important than ever to have your vitamin D levels tested so that you can reach and maintain levels of at least 50 to 70 ng/ml all the year round. Studies have found that a high percentage of those with psoriasis are in fact vitamin D-deficient.
Vitamin D is thought to affect psoriasis on multiple levels:
Helping to regulate skin cell growth and differentiation.
Influencing the immune functions of T lymphocytes and other cells.
Inhibiting cytotoxic T cells and natural killer cell activity, potentially helping to regulate skin cell growth.
Existing pharmaceutical drug treatments for psoriasis are risky and expensive and not always even effective.
How much easier to raise your vitamin D levels instead
Ideally, the best way is through sunlight – frequently and between the hours of 10 am and 2 pm with sunlight exposure to as much skin area as possible until it starts to turn pink and with no sun cream. When sunlight is impossible, as during the colder winter months, supplementation with good quality vitamin D3 along with some good fat (eg coconut oil or butter) and a dose of vitamin K2 to aid absorption is the next best thing. The biological role of vitamin K2 is to help move calcium into the proper areas in your body, and without sufficient amounts, calcium may build up in areas such as your arteries and soft tissues. Magnesium is also important, activating enzyme activity that helps your body use the vitamin D. As with vitamin D and K2, magnesium deficiency is also common and one way you can take magnesium is through Epsom salts baths.GrassrootsHealth suggests that adults need about 5,000 to 8,000 IUs of vitamin D3 supplements per day to achieve a minimum serum level of 40 ng/ml. If you can go higher, so much the better. The secret is in regular testing and we tell you more about this in our earlier post.
Get tested for vitamin D levels
Your level should ideally be somewhere between 70-100 ng/ml, which is about double what is typically considered “normal.” Sadly, vitamin D deficiency is common all around the world - even in sunnier parts. The darker the skin, the less the skin absorbs the vitamin and as we age, we absorb less. If you’re interested in having your vitamin D levels tested at home, consider joining the D*Action Project.
High on the known list of causes for psoriasis is genetics
A third of all sufferers will have a family history of psoriasis.
If one parent has the condition, the odds for a child to develop the condition is one in four.
If both parents have psoriasis, these chances increase to two out of their three children.
Other reasons why psoriasis occurs
Psorisias can be triggered by throat infections especially a streptococci infection.
Trauma or scratching can make the condition worse.
Certain drugs can bring on psoriasis for the first time or, if the condition is already present, aggravate it.
As in many other conditions, stress can play a big part with psoriasis being adversely affected in a stressful situation.
Excessive consumption of alcohol is not a good idea for those with psoriasis – it should be kept to a minimum.
Smoking is of course extremely unhealthy for anyone but when psoriasis occurs on the hands and the feet, it can be adversely affected by smoking.
Jane writes for Healing Natural Oils, a producer and retailer of high-quality, all-natural treatments for a variety of conditions as well as a range of beauty products. Apart from writing about those various conditions, she also covers general health, environmental and other subjects of interest. She has lived in Kenya as well as Cape Town, South Africa and spent time in San Diego, USA. She now lives in Somerset, England with regular visits from her far-flung children and grandchildren. She is a keen gardener and enjoys growing fresh fruit and vegetables with her husband on their joint allotment. As a result, there is something available to use in the kitchen virtually all year round. Her regular posts can be found on our blog.