Scientists now know that many people with vitiligo are deficient in folic acid, vitamin B12, vitamin C, copper, and zinc. The following is a partial list of studies demonstrating these vitamin deficiencies:
• “Abnormally low levels of Vitamin B12, Folic Acid and Vitamin C are found in a large number of vitiligo patients. Vitiligo: Nutritional Therapy, by Leopoldo Montes, M.D., M.S., FRCPC Westhoven Press, Buenos Aires.
• “Patients with vitiligo show diminished blood levels of folic acid, Vitamin B12, and ascorbic acid (vitamin C). Prolonged oral administration of these vitamins was followed by definite repigmentation without side effects,” Folic Acid and Vitamin B12 in Vitiligo: A Nutritional Approach, Cutis Magazine, Volume 50, July 1992.
• “In India, BEHL (1994), a vitiligo expert who has probably managed more vitiligo patients than any other dermatologist worldwide, has observed copper deficiency in the serum and in the skin of vitiligo patients.” Vitiligo: Nutritional Therapy, by Leopoldo Montes, M.D., M.S., FRCPC, Westhoven Press. Buenos Aires.
• “Nutritional deficiencies, both in animals and in humans, are known to alter melanin pigmentation. Copper and zinc deficiencies have been reported to induce hypopigmentation in various animals. Hypopigmentation of the skin and hair results from copper deficiency in humans; the depigmentation associated with chronic excessive molybdenum intake is related to a decreased storage of copper in the liver. Copper would seem of prime importance because tyrosinase is a known copper-requiring enzyme.” Vitiligo and Other Hypomelanoses of Hair and Skin, by Jean-Paul Ortonne, M.D., Plenum Medical Book Company, NY.
• “Achromotrichia has been claimed as an early indicator or copper insufficiency. This color change is associated with the decreased activity of tyrosinase, a copper-containing polyphenyl oxidase which is required for the synthesis of melanin pigment from tyrosine.” Copper in Animals and Man, Volume II, by John Howell, McC., D.V.Sc., F.R. C.Path. Jeffrey M. Gawthorne, Ph.D., CRC Press, Inc., Boca Raton, FL.
There is evidence that vitamin consumption can lead to some stabilization and in some cases repigmentation. Vitiligo patients showed significant improvement in the following clinical studies.
A clinical study describes the use of vitamin supplements in the treatment of vitiligo. Supplementation with large amounts of folic acid (1-10 mg. per day), vitamin C (1 gram per day) and vitamin B12 injections (1,000 mcg. every other week), produced marked repigmentation in eight of the fifteen people studied. These improvements became apparent after three months, but complete repigmentation required one to two years of continuous supplementation.
In another study of people with vitiligo, supplementation with folic acid (10 mg. per day) and vitamin B12 (2,000 mcg. per day), combined with sun exposure, resulted in some repigmentation after three to six months in about half of the participants. This combined regimen was more effective than either vitamin supplementation or sun exposure alone.
Researchers V.G. Kolyandenko, V.N. Korol, et al at the National Medical University in Kiev Ukraine, recognize the content of copper and zinc is reduced in vitiliginous skin. A topical with copper and zinc was applied to the skin of 12 vitiligo patients, followed by UV light exposure. The results were encouraging. It promoted normalization of skin-pigment function.
Pantothenic acid has also been attributed to forming new melanin and is essential for copper absorption.
In yet more studies, vitiligo patients who took vitamins experienced some improvement. “Pantothenic Acid and PABA (a component of folic acid) supplements are effective in managing vitiligo,” according to Carl C. Pfeiffer author of Mental and Elemental Nutrients.
Adelle Davis, the noteworthy American nutritionist states “Vitiligo has been corrected by giving pantothenic acid or PABA (a component of folic acid) in Let’s Get Well.
In Natural Healing, Mark Bricklin reports “A group of 48 people ranging in age from 10-70 years were given all B vitamins. Within two months, the white areas turned pinkish, and after six months, all 48 people were reportedly free of the colorless patches.” Among the B vitamins are folic acid, vitamin B12, and pantothenic acid.
Researcher Juhlin L. Olsson found that “Folic acid and vitamin B12 supplementation combined with sun exposure can induce repigmentation better than either the vitamins or sun exposure alone” in a study he conducted at the Department of Dermatology, University Hospital, Uppsala, Sweden.
A vitamin and mineral supplement is convenient way to ensure consistent consumption of adequate amounts of recommended vitamins and minerals. Because vitamin supplements are natural, they can complement a more traditional treatment. Folic acid, vitamin B12, vitamin C, pantothenic acid, copper, and zinc have been shown in scientific studies to improve and help manage vitiligo when used as part of a whole-health approach to vitiligo.
Note: The information contained herein is not intended as medical advice. Readers are encouraged to seek the help of a health-care practitioner.