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Vitamin D: A Little Known Remedy for Psoriasis

Psoriasis is associated with vitamin D deficiency. Dr. Robin Fleck of Southwest Skin & Cancer Institute in Prescott, Arizona routinely sees very low levels of Vitamin D ranging from 6-30 ng/mL in patients presenting with psoriasis. When the patient's blood level is increased to 50-80 ng/mL, psoriasis symptoms can abate, bringing relief to psoriasis sufferers. “In my dermatology practice, I've seen a marked improvement and even clearance of psoriatic plaques on the trunk and in the scalp, in most of my patients when their blood level of vitamin D is maintained above 80 ng/mL,” states Dr. Fleck.

Much of the world's population, including in the US, has a deficiency of vitamin D due to lack of the vitamin in our present day diet. The modern custom of eating a vitamin-poor, fat-free, high-carbohydrate diet with heavily processed grains, potatoes, beans and pasteurized dairy, leads to the chronic diseases of diabetes, atherosclerosis, cancer and autoimmune conditions, including many skin disorders such as psoriasis, acne, and lupus.

Supplementation with vitamin D should be done under a doctor's care to monitor the blood level while increasing the dose of the vitamin. While vitamin D is safe in most patients, not everyone can take vitamin D due to health issues, so check with your doctor before embarking on a course of vitamin D.

Another important point is that since vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, it should be taken with a fatty meal such as bacon and eggs or a hamburger to promote absorption. A study at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation showed that when vitamin D is taken with the largest meal of the day, blood levels increase over 50% compared to taking vitamin D on an empty stomach or with a light meal.

In addition, all supplements are not equal with respect to the quality of vitamin D; be sure to research your supplements to ensure they contain what they claim. Vitamin D doses of at least 5000-10000 IU per day are needed to see improvement in psoriasis.

One final point is that vitamin D is more effective when taken with vitamin K2 which assists in the formation of healthy bone. In addition, the amount of vitamin D in your blood usually drops during the winter months so check your blood level twice a year to ensure you are taking enough vitamin D.

In view of the safety and efficacy of vitamin D supplementation when properly monitored with blood testing, the use of this vitamin for treatment of psoriasis should be considered.

Other benefits of maintaining optimal blood levels of vitamin D are a decreased incidence of colds and flu seen in several worldwide studies and over 100 published studies have demonstrated vitamin D's anti-cancer effects.

Robin Fleck, M.D., is a double board certified dermatologist and internist, recognized by the American Board of Dermatology and the American Board of Internal Medicine. She is founder and medical director of Southwest Skin and Cancer Institute. Dr. Fleck is a fellow of the American College of Physicians and the American Venous Forum. She is also the medical director of Vein Specialties in Prescott, Arizona, where she treats chronic venous insufficiency, spider veins, and varicose veins.

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