There is so far no evidence that confirms a direct link between nutrition and vitiligo.
However, some studies suggest changing your diet or adding supplements could have a positive impact.
A nutrient-dense diet is always advisable, not only for vitiligo but for optimum health. A plant-based diet rich in antioxidants, low in inflammatory foods and possibly also gluten-free, may have a beneficial effect on vitiligo.
Eat an antioxidant-rich diet
One potential cause of vitiligo is the effect of stress on the cells that produce melanin. Less melanin means more skin depigmentation.
You can try to protect yourself against this stress by eating a diet high in antioxidants. One study carried out on mice with vitiligo showed significant levels of repigmentation when they ate foods high in antioxidants.
Vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and spices are all high in antioxidants. A good rule of thumb for eating enough antioxidants is to eat as many different coloured fruit and vegetables as possible: “eat the rainbow”.
Foods high in omega-3 (but lower in omega-6) could also help improve your symptoms. These include oily fish, nuts, seeds and algae.
A plant-based diet has been shown to be very high in antioxidants (as well as a whole host of other benefits!). This is not the same as a vegan diet because you can still eat some animal products. However, the majority of your diet is made up of plants.
Try a gluten-free diet
One study on a vitiligo patient found that following a gluten-free diet resulted in substantial repigmentation. The case study saw significant changes after nine-month period.
The study was only carried out on one person, but you could cut gluten from your diet to see if it works for you.
One reason for the improvements in this patient could be because gluten is an inflammatory food.
Avoid inflammatory foods
Avoiding foods that cause an inflammatory response may help reduce the symptoms of vitiligo.
Inflammatory foods include:
- processed meats
- sugary drinks
- trans fats, found in fried foods
- white bread
- white pasta
- soybean oil and vegetable oil
- processed snack foods, such as chips and crackers
- desserts, such as cookies, candy, and ice cream
- excess alcohol
- excessive carbohydrates
Inflammatory foods make it harder for your gut to work and remain healthy. A healthy gut helps decrease low-grade inflammation in the body. Fibre, probiotic and prebiotic foods, such as sauerkraut, can help improve gut health.
Although it is considered preferable to consume nutrients via whole foods rather than with supplements, studies suggest some supplements can aid repigmentation in vitiligo patients:
- ginkgo biloba
- alpha lipoic acid
- vitamin C
- vitamin E
- polyunsaturated fatty acids (omega-3)
vitamin D. It is advisable to see the advice of a professional before taking high strength vitamin D supplements. The dose needs to be balanced to avoid vitamin D toxicity. Too much vitamin D can lead to a build-up of calcium in the blood (hypercalcemia), which may cause nausea and vomiting.