More than 7.5 million Americans suffer from psoriasis, which takes on the form of a thick, itchy, painful, red, scaly patch. It is a chronic disease of the immune system, leading to an accumulation of cells on the surface of the skin.
The already huge and growing number of patients with psoriasis has an economic impact, annually costing the US about 112$ billion, according to a study conducted by JAMA Dermatology.
In general, direct US healthcare costs relating to psoriasis can be up to 63$ billion a year, while the indirect, such as loss of work hours and associated health problems and side effects such as heart disease and depression, add up another 70$ billion per year.
However, even though psoriasis is considered to be a skin condition, it is in fact an autoimmune disease, drastically affecting daily life. When one type of blood cell, mainly a T cell, mistakenly attacks healthy skin cells, it triggers the immune responses.
This accelerates the cycle of skin cells, forcing them to move out of the outermost layer of the skin in just several days.
Afterwards, the dead skin cells group up in the form of thick patches, characteristic of psoriasis. The skin can start cracking and bleeding, having been excessively inflamed. Up to 30% of patients also develop psoriatic arthritis, which debilitates joint damage.
Patients are at an increased risk of other chronic diseases, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, eye conditions and high blood pressure. Luckily, psoriasis is not contagious, but patients have been reported to experience problems at work or home, due to having low self-esteem, social isolation and depression.
If you’re suffering from psoriasis, the best thing you can do is increase the levels of vitamin D in your body, as it is essential in all autoimmune diseases and a powerful immune modulator. Its levels should be in the therapeutic levels between 50-70 ng/ml year-round.
A study found that “vitamin D could have important immunomodulatory effects in patients with psoriasis”, but the reality is that patients have 50 and 80 percent in summer and winter, respectively.
Vitamin D regulates keratinocyte growth (skin cells), differentiation and affection the immune functions of T lymphocytes along with other cells, as well as inhibiting cytotoxic T cells.
Current psoriasis commercial drug remedies and treatments come with multiple unwanted side effects and is quite expensive. For example, Stelara provided only temporary symptoms and Raptive, was pulled back from the market due to its high risk of deadly brain infections.
Psoralen, in combination with UV light exposure, is one of the most common psoriasis treatments, however UVA exposure leads to skin exposure.
Optimize your Vitamin D Levels
The best treatment for psoriasis is increasing vitamin D levels in your body. A professor of dermatology, Dr. Michael Holick published a book back in 2004, The UV Advantage, which he advises readers to get as much exposure in the sun as possible in hopes to increase vitamin D levels.
At the time, he won a prestigious award, the American Skin Association’s Psoriasis Research Achievement Award, for using active vitamin D for treating psoriasis.
“As a result, 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… The American Academy of Dermatology still recommends: you should never be exposed to one direct ray of sunlight for your entire life.”
The effects of sunlight exposure is partly due to the UV rays in sunlight and some types of artificial light, killing off the activated T cells, thus reducing the speed at which cells turnover and reducing the inflammation and scaling of your skin.
Patients suffering from psoriasis also develop other diseases like heart disease and metabolic syndromes, which are also linked to deficiency of vitamin D. Low levels of vitamin D in the body can cause cancer and Parkinson’s diseases, as well.
One study found that:
“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.”
A research presented at the Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium in San Francisco in 2015 confirmed that improving survival in people with advanced colorectal cancer can be dramatically increased with higher levels of vitamin D
Over 2500 laboratory and 200 epidemiological studies have confirmed the link between vitamin D deficiency and cancer.
The study has been completed by Robert Heaney and Joan Lappe in 2007, and it involved a group of women in menopause which had received enough vitamin D to increase their serum level to 40 ng/ml. The women experienced a 77 percent reduction in incidence of all cancers in little over 4 years.
A growing body of research indicates that the vitamin D is optimal and necessary for disease prevention and overall health, as it was proved to have an affect over 3000 genes.
The optimal levels for vitamin D for a general healthy body is 50-70 ng/ml, but in the cases of treating diseases like autoimmune, neurological disease, as well as cancer and heart disease it should be somewhere between 70-100 ng/ml.
However, vitamin D deficiency is common, with a study in India confirming that 69 percent of 37000 people across the country had at or below 20 ng/ml, with another 15 percent having insufficient levels of vitamin D (20-30 ng/ml).
The best way to optimize vitamin D levels is an exposure to sensible UVB. There are oral supplements for vitamin D3, as well.
Should you decide to take supplements, you are advised to choose D3 and not synthetic D2. These vitamins are in synergy with magnesium and vitamin K2, so you should take supplements or increase the levels of both.
Since vitamin D is water-soluble, it should go handy with some form of healthy fat. Vitamin K2 aids in the transport of calcium into the designated body areas preventing calcification, which is essentially its accumulation in the soft tissues and arteries.
On the other hand, for the calcium to function properly and to convert vitamin D into its active form, you need magnesium. It activates the enzymes which are helping with the absorption of vitamin D.
You can take magnesium thronate or magnesium citrate as supplements, or simply eat more sea vegetables like kelp, dulse and nori to increase the amount of magnesium in your body.
Boron, zinc and vitamin A are also essential cofactors interacting with vitamin D, so a diet rich in these nutrients, such as a whole food diet, is needed.
Vitamin D is crucial for disease prevention and overall optimal health. The vitamin D receptors, which bind to certain locations of the human genome, affect DNA.
Multiply studies have confirmed the importance of this vitamin for all conditions and diseases, so make sure you have plenty of it in your system.