Does B12 Help Psoriasis?
Vitamin B-12 is a water-soluble vitamin belonging to the B-complex family of vitamins. Many important biological processes in your body, including red blood cell formation and nervous system function, require vitamin B-12. Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition in which areas of skin become inflamed and develop into rough, dry patches. Treating psoriasis can be challenging, causing people to search for many different remedies. One possible remedy is treatment with vitamin B-12; however, the available research concerning this treatment has produced conflicting results.
Vitamin B-12 Injections
While some people claim that injections of vitamin B-12 help reduce their symptoms of psoriasis, the clinical studies suggest the percentage of psoriasis patients who benefit from vitamin B-12 is low. In the 1960s, doctors investigated injecting solutions of vitamin B12 directly into skin lesions of people with psoriasis. One of the first studies involved 73 patients with psoriasis. The results did not find any benefit from treatment with vitamin B12, as reported in the December 1962 issue of the "British Medical Journal." Since these early studies, few additional studies have been conducted on injections of vitamin B-12.
- While some people claim that injections of vitamin B-12 help reduce their symptoms of psoriasis, the clinical studies suggest the percentage of psoriasis patients who benefit from vitamin B-12 is low.
- In the 1960s, doctors investigated injecting solutions of vitamin B12 directly into skin lesions of people with psoriasis.
Vitamin B12 Cream
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In recent years, interest has grown in using topical creams containing vitamin B-12 to treat psoriasis. In some of the creams, vitamin B-12 is combined with other ingredients, such as avocado oil. In a small study, involving 13 patients and published in 2001 in "Dermatology," a cream containing vitamin B-12 and avocado oil demonstrated promising results in treating chronic plaque psoriasis.
While the study published in 2001 in "Dermatology" provided encouraging results for treating psoriasis with vitamin B12 creams, due to the small size of this study, additional research is needed to support these claims. A larger trial of 48 patients was conducted by the Ruhr University of Bochum in Germany to test a similar vitamin B-12 and avocado oil cream. Although the study was completed in 2006, the results have not yet been released, according to ClinicalTrials.gov.
Vitamin B-12 Levels During Psoriasis
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Researchers have also investigated possible reasons for the beneficial effects of vitamin B-12 on psoriasis. Many of the B-complex vitamins, including vitamin B-12, are necessary to maintain healthy skin. One possible connection between vitamin B-12 and psoriasis could be that low levels of vitamin B-12 directly cause psoriasis. The currently available evidence does not support this theory. A study published in the December 2009 issue of the "Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology" found that vitamin B-12 levels were not significantly different between patients with psoriasis and healthy volunteers. These results suggest that ingesting supplements of vitamin B-12 are also unlikely to help psoriasis.
- Researchers have also investigated possible reasons for the beneficial effects of vitamin B-12 on psoriasis.
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- "British Medical Journal"; Is Vitamin B12 of Value in Psoriasis?; Harvey Baker and J.S. Comaish; December 1962
- "Dermatology"; Vitamin B(12) Cream Containing Avocado Oil in the Therapy of Plaque Psoriasis; M Stucker et al.; 2001
- "Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology"; Homocysteine, Vitamin B12 and Folic Acid Levels in Psoriasis Patients; S.K. Cakmak et al.; December 2009
- ClinicalTrials.gov: Topical Vitamin B12 in Chronic Plaque Psoriasis
- Helmick CG, Lee-Han H, Hirsch SC, et al. Prevalence of psoriasis among adults in the U.S.: 2003-2006 and 2009-2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys. Am J Prev Med. 2014 Jul;47(1):37-45. doi:10.1016/j.amepre.2014.02.012
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- Dommasch, ED Li T, Okereke OI, et al. Risk of depression in women with psoriasis: a cohort study. Br J Dermatol. 2015 Oct; 173(4): 975–980. doi:10.1111/bjd.14032
- Koo J, Marangell LB, Nakamura M, et al. Depression and suicidality in psoriasis: review of the literature including the cytokine theory of depression. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2017 Dec;31(12):1999-2009. doi:10.1111/jdv.14460
- Husni ME, Merola JF, Davin S. The psychosocial burden of psoriatic arthritis. Semin Arthritis Rheum. 2017 Dec;47(3):351-360. doi:10.1016/j.semarthrit.2017.05.010
- Cuomo A, Giordano N, Goracci A, et al. Depression and vitamin D deficiency: causality, assessment, and clinical practice implications. Neuropsychiatry (London) (2017) 7(5), 606–614. doi:10.4172/Neuropsychiatry.1000255
- World Health Organization. Depression. Published March 22, 2018.
- Soleymani T, Hung T, Soung J. The role of vitamin D in psoriasis: A review. Int J Dermatol. 2015 Apr;54(4):383-92. doi:10.1111/ijd.12790
- Wu CY, Chang YT, Juan CK, et al. Depression and insomnia in patients with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis taking tumor necrosis factor antagonists. Medicine (Baltimore). 2016 May; 95(22): e3816. doi: 10.1097/MD.0000000000003816
- Rousset L, Halioua B. Stress and psoriasis. Int J Dermatol. 2018;57(10):1165-1172. doi:10.1111/ijd.14032
Matthew Busse has pursued professional health and science writing since 2007, writing for national publications including "Science Magazine," "New Scientist" and "The Scientist." Busse holds a doctorate in molecular biology from the University of California-San Diego.