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Research on Vitamin D supplements

Do Vitamin D supplements provide relief to those suffering from psoriasis?

While opinions on the subject may vary, a team of researchers at Massey University is working to find treatment that is affordable and effective.

The team is in need of 112 Auckland-based psoriasis sufferers aged 18 or older, with plaque-type psoriasis in ‘active phase,’ which has been stable for the past two months.

Volunteers must meet certain criteria and be able to attend five appointments at the Albany-based Human Nutrition Research Unit for assessments and samples.

While they do not need a doctor’s referral, a dermatologist will screen them before being accepted to the trial.

Dr Pamela von Hurst, Research Supervisor and Co-Director of the newly established Vitamin D Research Centre, who is leading the team, said that it was no easy task to find affordable and socially acceptable treatment for psoriasis.

“Psoriasis is a chronic, non-contagious inflammatory disease of the skin, the treatment of which could include a topical lotion or creams, pills or injections, or phototherapy (which uses light to treat the condition).

“These options have drawbacks, including high cost, inconvenience and increased risk of other health problems,” she said.

“We know that UV radiation increases vitamin D levels, but during winter, our vitamin D levels get low. Other options are either expensive, messy or have side effects. We want to help improve the quality of life for psoriasis sufferers.”

Exciting study

PhD research student Michelle Ingram said that she was excited about the Auckland based research project, which may take up to a year for completion.

“Psoriasis can affect how people live and interact with others when the condition is active. This can be anything from choosing a particular type of clothing to cover up, to deciding not to go out in public when they feel it looks bad.

“Determining the benefits of taking vitamin D supplements will give psoriasis sufferers new options in the battle to manage this disease,” she said.

Dr von Hurst said that the Vitamin D Research Centre would form a part of Massey’s new College of Health in 2013.

“It will focus on illness and injury prevention rather than cure. The College will bring together specialists from fields ranging from food and nutrition, sport and exercise, rehabilitation, nursing, Maori and Pasifika health, public health, social work, health and safety; as well as those researching the social and economic factors that underpin health and wellbeing,” she said.

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