If you stop eating gluten, your vitiligo will go away, right? Not quite. How about that pill you found online that claims to “cure” vitiligo? Let’s think twice. There is a lot of misinformation on the internet about diet and vitamins when it comes to treating vitiligo. And what you put into your body isn’t something that should be taken lightly. So, what can we trust as fact about diet, vitamins and vitiligo?
A board-certified dermatologist and pigmentary expert, Dr. Nada Elbuluk regularly sees vitiligo patients out of her Los Angeles office – and knows a thing or two about the leading research when it comes to diet, vitamins and vitiligo. Well-known in the vitiligo community, she regularly takes part in national and international vitiligo research and patient conferences.
If you’re looking for that magic diet to make your vitiligo go away, we have bad news: it doesn’t exist. “There are no controlled studies done in vitiligo patients that allow us to say one diet is better over another for vitiligo,” said Dr. Elbuluk. Gluten-free diets, perhaps the most discussed among patients, have only been shown to possibly have a benefit in helping vitiligo improve in those who have celiac disease.
But there is good news – there are studies that show that antioxidants and certain supplements can help with stabilizing vitiligo and potentially improving repigmentation. Here’s what you need to know.
Balance your diet with antioxidants
Studies have shown that antioxidants can help with stabling vitiligo and improving pigmentation – especially if used in conjunction with phototherapy treatment. If you want to increase your antioxidant levels, you can consume foods like almonds, blueberries, strawberries, artichokes and other antioxidant-rich foods. Foods higher in antioxidants may, in theory, help. However, balance is key – it’s important not to be over-zealous in consuming any one food.
Talk to your doctor about supplements
A handful of studies on supplements have shown that vitamins C, D, E, alpha lipoic acid, and gingko biloba can possibly have benefits with stabilizing and repigmenting vitiligo. However, the number of studies done is limited. What does this mean? It’s important to talk to your doctor about taking supplements before adding them to your diet. Certain vitamins are not water soluble and can accumulate in the body and others can cause prolong bleeding times. In other words, experimenting with supplements on your own can be unsafe. Discuss your medical history with your doctor and take your current medications into consideration when adding supplements to your diet.
Don’t believe everything you read on the internet
There’s a lot of misinformation about vitiligo on the internet – and when it comes to diet, vitamins and what you’re putting in your body, misinformation can be dangerous to your health. “Patients come into my office trying all sorts of products they found on the internet,” said Dr. Elbuluk. “It’s a waste of money, the impact on their health is unknown and there could be negative side effects.” The best option is to see a vitiligo specialist, someone who is familiar with the latest medical research about vitiligo and can advise you on how to manage your vitiligo. If you do want to do some online reading, try these six trusted, doctor-recommended sources: Global Vitiligo Foundation, Vitiligo Research Foundation, Vitiligo Support International, Dr. John Harris’ Blog, Living Dappled, American Vitiligo Research Foundation.
Erika Page is the Founder and Editor of Living Dappled. After getting vitiligo at the age of seven, she lost 100% of her pigment to the condition and today lives with universal vitiligo.