• People with psoriasis may have lower levels of vital nutrients like B12, zinc, and vitamin D.
  • Some nutrients have anti-inflammatory effects that may help reduce psoriasis activity.
  • Supplementing vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids, and probiotics may help.

Research shows a link between nutrient deficiency and psoriasis. Supplements like vitamin D may help reduce psoriasis symptoms.

Psoriasis is thought to be caused by the body’s own immune system working against itself. Inflammatory processes that normally fight infection attack healthy skin cells instead. The body creates more skin cells more quickly, leading to a buildup of cells on the skin’s surface.

Although no one knows exactly why some people have psoriasis, there’s a growing body of evidence that nutritional deficiencies are linked to the condition. Supplementation with oral or topical products may help reduce psoriasis symptoms.

Most people with psoriasis have plaque psoriasis, which forms areas of thick, scaly skin called plaques. Symptoms include raised and thick patches of skin covered in silvery scales. The scales may be very itchy and uncomfortable.

Plaques can form anywhere on the skin but are most common on elbows, knees, lower back, and scalp.

People with psoriasis can have lower levels of some vital nutrients, which may contribute to the inflammatory process of psoriasis. In addition, some nutrients have anti-inflammatory effects that may help reduce psoriasis activity.

Some nutrients, like vitamin D, also play a critical role in immune function.

Vitamin B12 and folate

Vitamin B12 may be an important treatment for psoriasis. A small 2017 study of 24 people found a topical vitamin B12 ointment resulted in lower Psoriasis Area Severity Index (PASI) scores after 12 weeks of treatment than a glycerol-petrolatum cream.

The reason may be homocysteine. Homocysteine is an amino acid and vitamin B12 regulates the amount in the blood. People with psoriasis tend to have high levels of homocysteine. The body breaks it down with folic acid and vitamin B12, but people with psoriasis may use up folate more quickly because of the rapid production of cells during a flare.

Homocysteine may in turn also promote the inflammatory process in the skin cells that leads to psoriasis symptoms. Vitamin B12, in addition to breaking down homocysteine, helps control inflammation and protects cells from oxidative damage.

An insufficiency or deficiency in folate and vitamin B12 can be a cause of high homocysteine in people with psoriasis. Some studies have found that people with psoriasis have lower levels of these vitamins compared to the general population.

Vitamin D

Some people find sunshine helps with psoriasis flares, even reducing symptoms. One connection may be the vitamin D from the sun. There’s a possible link between low levels of vitamin D and psoriasis.

A 2022 study of 602 people found that 60% of those with psoriasis had vitamin D deficiency compared to 17.5% in the control group. The study also indicated that low vitamin D levels were linked to more severe psoriasis.

Vitamin D helps to promote the growth of skin cells called keratinocytes. These cells grow out of control because of the inflammatory processes of psoriasis.

People with low vitamin D levels need to supplement. Maintaining optimal vitamin D levels could lessen the severity of psoriasis and reduce inflammation.

Prescription topical synthetic vitamin D treatments are available to apply directly to psoriasis plaques.

Selenium

Selenium is a vital nutrient that has antioxidant properties. It also helps regulate the immune system and control inflammation. Food sources of selenium include shellfish, poultry, and grains.

Research suggests people with psoriasis have lower than average blood selenium levels than people without psoriasis. For example, a 2017 study of 118 people comparing those with and without psoriasis found lower selenium levels on average in the psoriasis group.

However, it’s unclear whether supplementing with selenium helps to reduce or resolve psoriasis symptoms.

The research that nutritional supplements can reduce psoriasis symptoms is still limited. However, there are a few options to try that may help:

  • oral vitamin D supplements and topical vitamin D treatments
  • vitamin D from sunshine
  • oral vitamin B12
  • omega-3 fatty acid supplements and food sources of omega-3s like fatty fish and shellfish
  • probiotic supplements and probiotic-rich foods like kimchi and yogurt with live and active cultures

Decreased levels of zinc have also been seen in people with psoriasis, and treatments that increase zinc levels may help.

Since supplements can interact with other psoriasis medications, it’s a good idea to run by any choices you consider with your doctor. Some supplements, such as topical synthetic vitamin D, are available as prescription medications.

If you have psoriasis, you can ask a healthcare professional to test you for common nutrient deficiencies like B12 and vitamin D.

Eating plenty of whole foods and reducing consumption of ultra-processed foods and added sugars can help support your health.

Research shows a link between nutrient deficiency and psoriasis. Some supplements, such as vitamin D, may help reduce psoriasis symptoms.