Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease that leads to the accumulation of cells on the skin surface, creating thick, red, scaly, and itchy or painful patches. More than 7.5 million Americans are affected by psoriasis, causing an annual healthcare cost of approximately $112 billion in 2013.
Part of the reaction of this disease occurs when a type of white blood cell known as T cell mistakenly attacks healthy skin cells. These overactive T cells, in turn, trigger other immune responses that accelerate the growth cycle of skin cells, that move to the outermost layer of the skin. These dead skins cannot be eliminated easily, so they build up in the form of patches, that can crack and bleed.
People affected by psoriasis have an increased risk of other chronic diseases, such as heart disease, eye conditions, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure, as well as psychological repercussions, like depression, low self-esteem, and social isolation.
What is of high importance is that these sufferers check their vitamin D levels, since this vitamin is a powerful immune modulator, that prevents autoimmune diseases.
It affects psoriasis on various levels, as it regulates keratinocyte (skin cell) growth, impacts the immune functions of T lymphocytes and other cells, inhibits cytotoxic T cells and controls skin cell growth.
Conventional psoriasis drug treatments are expensive and highly risky, but the best way to naturally treat is by optimizing the levels of vitamin D in the body, by a proper exposure to sunlight.
According to Dr. Michael Holick, who worked as a professor of dermatology and received the American Skin Association’s Psoriasis Research Achievement Award:
“I was in the department of dermatology, continuing to do psoriasis research. But once I began recommending sensible sun exposure for vitamin D, which is counter to what the American Academy of Dermatology’s message was, I was asked to step down as professor of dermatology back in 2004…”
Apparently, UV rays in sunlight and certain types of artificial light destroy the activated T cells in your skin, and thus slow down cell turnover and reduce the scaling and inflammation.
One study found that psoriasis sufferers have an increased risk of Parkinson’s disease as well:
“Plasma levels of both dietary and sunlight-derived vitamin D are inversely correlated with the risk of Parkinson disease (PD) … The finding suggests that low vitamin D levels in PD are not simply a result of reduced mobility.”
Moreover, another study has revealed that the increased vitamin D levels are linked to markedly improved survival in people with advanced colorectal cancer.
The study completed by Joan Lappe and Robert Heaney in 2007 showed that the increased serum levels of vitamin D in menopausal women led to a 77 percent reduction in the incidence of all cancers.
According to Healthline:
“In addition to its primary benefits, research suggests that vitamin D may also play a role in:
reducing your risk of multiple sclerosis, according to a 2006 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association
decreasing your chance of developing heart disease, according to 2008 findings published in Circulation
helping to reduce your likelihood of developing the flu, according to 2010 research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Research has shown that vitamin D might play an important role in regulating mood and warding off depression.
In another study, overweight people who took a daily vitamin D supplement improved their heart disease risk markers.”
Finally, a robust and growing body of research has shown that this important vitamin is critical for disease prevention and good health. It impacts the DNA through vitamin D receptors (VDRs), which bind to specific locations of the human genome.
“A growing body of evidence shows that vitamin D plays a crucial role in disease prevention and maintaining optimal health. There are about 30,000 genes in your body, and vitamin D affects nearly 3,000 of them, as well as vitamin D receptors located throughout your body.
According to one large-scale study, optimal vitamin D levels can slash your risk of cancer by as much as 60 percent. Keeping your levels optimized can help prevent at least 16 different types of cancer, including pancreatic, lung, ovarian, prostate, and skin cancers. Moreover, vitamin D can build your defenses against cancer by:
-Enhancing the self-destruction of mutated cells (which can replicate and cause cancer)
-Slowing down the production and spread of cancer cells
-Helping in the differentiation of cells (cancer cells are not differentiated)
-Preventing the formation of new blood vessels from pre-existing ones (this can help stop the progress of benign tumors into cancerous ones)
Vitamin D can also help reduce the risk of other conditions as well, including type 2 diabetes, chronic inflammation, age-related macular degeneration (the leading cause of blindness), and Alzheimer’s disease.
Vitamin D also exhibits its infection-fighting abilities in the treatment of tuberculosis, pneumonia, colds, and flu. It can also improve seizure control in epileptics.”
The optimal levels of this vitamin to support general health range between 50-70 ng/ml, but in the treatment of chronic diseases like heart disease, cancer, and autoimmune (i.e. psoriasis) and/or neurological diseases, the levels should be between 70-100 ng/ml.
Unfortunately, vitamin D deficiency is common all around the world, and men between the ages of 31-60, and women aged 16-30 are especially at an increased risk of vitamin D deficiency.
Sensible UVB exposure is the perfect way to optimize the levels of this vitamin in the body, but you can also benefit from the oral supplementation of vitamin D3.
Yet, if you decide to take supplements, make sure you take vitamin D3—not synthetic D2—in a combination with vitamin K2 and magnesium. Since vitamin D is fat-soluble, in order to enhance its absorption, take it with some form of healthy fat.
On the other hand, vitamin K2 is needed to help move calcium into the proper areas in the body, and prevent calcification and hardening of the arteries.
Dr. Kate Rheaume-Bleue, author of Vitamin K2 and the Calcium Paradox: How a Little Known Vitamin Could Save Your Life, explains their connection:
“When you take vitamin D, your body creates more of these vitamin K2-dependent proteins, the proteins that will move the calcium around. They have a lot of potential health benefits. But until the K2 comes in to activate those proteins, those benefits aren’t realized. So, really, if you’re taking vitamin D, you’re creating an increased demand for K2. And vitamin D and K2 work together to strengthen your bones and improve your heart health.
…For so long, we’ve been told to take calcium for osteoporosis… and vitamin D, which we know is helpful. But then, more studies are coming out showing that increased calcium intake is causing more heart attacks and strokes. That created a lot of confusion around whether calcium is safe or not. But that’s the wrong question to be asking because we’ll never properly understand the health benefits of calcium or vitamin D unless we take into consideration K2. That’s what keeps the calcium in its right place”
Additionally, magnesium will convert vitamin D into its active form by activating enzyme activity that helps the body use the vitamin D. Increase the intake of sea vegetables, like kelp, dulse, and nori. When it comes to the types of supplements, the recommended ones include magnesium citrate and magnesium threonate.
Vitamin D interacts with vitamin A, zinc, and boron as well, so make sure your diet is high in them.