Over 7.5 million Americans suffer from psoriasis, which is a chronic disease of the immune system that leads to the accumulation of cells on the surface of the skin, in the form of itchy, painful, thick, red, scaly patches.
The high number of patients with psoriasis has its huge economic impact as well, and according to a study conducted in JAMA Dermatology, the annual US cost of psoriasis accounted for about $112 billion.
Namely, direct US healthcare costs related to psoriasis may be up to $63 billion a year, the indirect costs (such as loss of work hours) are up to $35 billion, and another $35 billion in costs due to associated health problems, such as heart disease and depression.
Yet, even though it seems to be a skin condition, psoriasis is an autoimmune disease, that seriously affects everyday life. When a T cell, which is a type of white cell, mistakenly attacks healthy skin cells, it also triggers immune responses.
These collectively accelerate the cycle of skin cells, forcing them to move to the outermost layer of the skin in several days.
The dead skin accumulates in the form of thick patches which are characteristic of psoriasis. The skin might become excessively inflamed, and start cracking and bleeding. Also, up to 30 percent of sufferers also develop another debilitating joint damage, known as psoriatic arthritis.
Sufferers are also at an increased risk of other chronic diseases, like high blood pressure, eye conditions, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. Psoriasis is not contagious, but patients often feel in a depression social isolation, have low self-esteem, and problems at work.
If you have psoriasis, you need to optimize the vitamin D levels in the body, as this vitamin is essential in the case of all autoimmune diseases, since it is a powerful immune modulator. Its levels should be in the therapeutic range of 50-70 ng/ml year-round.
One study found that “vitamin D could have important immunomodulatory effects in psoriasis,” but unfortunately, 80 percent of patients in winter, and 50 percent in the summer, suffer from a deficiency of this vitamin.
Vitamin D regulates keratinocyte (skin cell) growth and differentiation and affects the immune functions of T lymphocytes and other cells. It also inhibits cytotoxic T cells and regulates skin cell growth.
Current commercial psoriasis drug treatments are expensive and come with numerous possible side-effects. For instance, Raptiva, was withdrawn from the market due to the high risk of deadly brain infections, and Stelara provided temporary symptoms only.
Psoralen, combined with UV light exposure, is one of the most common psoriasis treatments, but the UVA exposure leads to skin exposure.
Optimize Your Vitamin D Levels
On the other hand, the best psoriasis treatment is to optimize the vitamin D levels in the body.
In 2004, the professor of dermatology, Dr. Michael Holick published the book, The UV Advantage, in which he encouraged readers to get some sensible sun exposure.
At the time, he used active vitamin D for treating psoriasis, and won the American Skin Association’s Psoriasis Research Achievement Award—a rather prestigious award.
“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 are partly due to the UV rays in sunlight and certain types of artificial light, which kill off the activated T cells in your skin, and thus decelerate cell turnover and reduce the scaling and inflammation of your skin.
Psoriasis patients often suffer from other chronic diseases like metabolic syndrome and heart disease, which are also linked to vitamin D deficiency.
Low Vitamin D levels cause Parkinson’s Disease and Cancer
Psoriasis sufferers are also at a higher risk of Parkinson’s disease as well, and this, too, is associated with vitamin D deficiency. As one study found:
“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.”
Research presented at the 2015 Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium in San Francisco also confirmed that higher vitamin D levels are linked to dramatically improved survival in people with advanced colorectal cancer.
Over 200 epidemiological studies, and 2,500 laboratory studies have confirmed the link between vitamin D deficiency and cancer.
The study was completed by Joan Lappe and Robert Heaney in 2007 which involved a group of menopausal women who received enough vitamin D to increase their serum levels to 40 ng/ml. After just four years, the women experienced a 77 percent reduction in the incidence of all cancers.
Scientists have found about 3,000 genes affected by vitamin D status, and a growing body of research clearly indicates that vitamin D is vital for optimal health and disease prevention.
The optimal level for general health is between 50-70 ng/ml, but in the treatment of chronic diseases like cancer, heart disease, and autoimmune and neurological diseases, somewhere between 70-100 ng/ml.
Yet, vitamin D deficiency is quite common, and a study conducted in India, showed that 69 percent of 37,000 people tested across the country have it at or below 20 ng/ml, and another 15 percent had insufficient levels of this vitamin(20-30 ng/ml).
Sensible UVB exposure is the best way to optimize your vitamin D levels. You can also use an oral supplement of vitamin D3.
If you decide to take supplements, you need to choose vitamin D3—not synthetic D2. Also, you should also take magnesium and vitamin K2, as these act in synergy.
To boost its absorption, take some form of healthy fat as well, as vitamin D is water-soluble. Vitamin K2 aids the transfer of calcium into the proper body areas and prevents calcification, which is its accumulation in the arteries and soft tissues.
On the other hand, magnesium is needed for the proper function of calcium, and it also converts vitamin D into its active form. It activates enzymes that help the absorption of vitamin D.
You should consume more sea vegetables, like nori, dulse, and kelp, or take magnesium citrate or magnesium threonate supplements.
Vitamin A, zinc, and boron are also essential cofactors that interact with vitamin D, so make sure you consume an organic whole food diet, rich in these nutrients.
Therefore, vitamin D is critical for optimal overall health and disease prevention. Through the vitamin D receptors, which bind to certain locations of the human genome, it affects DNA.
Numerous studies have found that it is vital for the treatment of all diseases and conditions, so make sure its levels are always optimal in your body.