Vitiligo is an autoimmune condition caused by a lack of melanin in the skin. Melanin is produced by melanocytes and it gives the skin its color.
People with this condition might lack healthy levels of particular nutrients or suffer from issues such as Oxidative Stress and inflammation.
Antioxidants have the ability to prevent or slow the damage to cells brought about by these free radicals and other unstable molecules that can worsen vitiligo. So, they can help with vitiligo in a number of ways.
What Is Oxidative Stress?
Oxidative stress is simply an imbalance between antioxidants and free radicals (or reactive oxygen species) in the body. Damage to tissues and cells occurs when there are more free radicals than can be kept in balance by antioxidants.
The body is able to naturally maintain a balance between antioxidants and free radicals. Factors such as diet changes, environmental factors (like radiation and pollution), and particular conditions such as inflammation and vitiligo affect this balance. In most cases, they lead to the overproduction of free radicals.
Oxidative stress is the primary activating factor for the development of vitiligo. It influences it in the following ways:
It Can Damage Melanocytes
Oxidative stress apparently contributes to the development of vitiligo, mainly in its early stages. Studies have shown that vitiligo patients have heightened levels of free radicals and low levels of antioxidants in their skin.
For instance, one of these studies found abnormal levels of a type of reactive oxygen species called hydrogen peroxide in the skin of people with vitiligo.
Any reactive oxygen species impair the functioning of the pigment-producing cells, melanocytes. This implies that these melanocytes can no longer manufacture enough melanin that colors the skin.
Also, high levels of reactive oxygen species affect the ability of melanocytes to naturally repair themselves after encountering damage.
It Can Trigger Autoimmunity
Sometimes the immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys the body’s own healthy tissues and organs. This is referred to as autoimmunity. But how does oxidative stress influence autoimmunity in vitiligo patients?
Melanocytes can be damaged when the increased levels of free radicals are unchecked by the decreased levels of antioxidants. Even in its worst condition, the skin tries to release some pieces of melanocytes that the defense mechanism mistakenly targets as “foreign” to the body.
As a result, these melanocytes are destroyed instantly, accelerating the depigmentation process.
Role of Antioxidants in Controlling Oxidative Stress in Vitiligo Patients
As said earlier, antioxidants serve as bodyguards to protect healthy cells and tissues from free radical attacks. By doing so, they can help control vitiligo as well as promote overall immunity.
Many studies are ongoing to discover the oxidative stress pathways to develop improved strategies for managing and treating vitiligo. Most of these studies are based on how antioxidants can help get rid of oxidative stress.
One study focused on the efficacy of antioxidants on vitiligo patients undergoing UV therapy. It found that those who combined antioxidants with UV therapy had better levels of repigmentation compared to patients who were subjected only to UV therapy.
Increasing the intake of antioxidants such as vitamin B12, vitamin C, vitamin E, beta carotene, and selenium can effectively manage vitiligo, no matter its cause. Besides, most nutritionists claim that regulated dietary intake of antioxidants along with other healthy minerals and vitamins help control autoimmune conditions, including vitiligo.
If your body cannot produce enough antioxidants, you can get them from foods or through supplementation. Some foods rich in antioxidants are artichokes, strawberries, kale, beans, dark chocolate, pecans, and many more.
You should go for a “rainbow diet” to make sure you get all the important nutrients and antioxidants for your condition. A rainbow diet means consuming fruits and vegetables of different colors like red (strawberries or tomatoes), green (broccoli or kale), yellow (banana or bell peppers), and orange (oranges or carrots).
This way, you will be taking a diverse range of nutrients, vitamins, and of course, antioxidants. You will want to consult your doctor for the best dieting plan.
Lastly, do not rely on supplements! They may interact with some medications you might be taking. Plus, they may not offer well-rounded benefits, especially when you are mega-dosing a single supplement.
A Holistic Cure?
In 2022, vitiligo researcher David Paltrow came out with a bold claim: according to him, the root cause of vitiligo has nothing to do with melanin (the skin pigment). Even bolder, he is claiming that by tackling this root cause, he is able to cure vitiligo in his patients without using any of the above-mentioned medications.
Although not everyone agrees with his claims, I do think his introductory video is worth a watch. Check it out below:
This post first appeared on NaturWarriors - For Healthier Lives Through Nature!, please read the originial post: here