There is no recommended "vitiligo diet," but a healthy diet that supports the immune system is a good choice, since doctors theorize that vitiligo may be an autoimmune disease. Foods to avoid include blueberries and pears, because they contain hydroquinone, a natural depigmenting agent. Some vitiligo patients have also found that the spice turmeric makes their condition worse [source: Vitiligo Support International].
There are also some vitamins and minerals a person with vitiligo may need to add to their diet. Research has found that vitiligo patients are often deficient in vitamin B12, copper, folic acid and zinc. But before taking any vitamin supplements, you can also try to boost levels of these vitamins by eating foods that are rich in them. For example, vitamin B12 can be found in fish, shellfish, meat and dairy products. Leafy green vegetables such as spinach, as well as fruits, dried beans and peas are good sources of folate (the natural form of folic acid). Since healthy diets are naturally rich in copper and zinc, supplements may be necessary only if a patient is deficient in these minerals [source: National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements].
Natural supplements such as ginkgo biloba may also help slow the spread of depigmentation. If vitiligo patients choose to go this route, experts typically recommend taking three 40-millgram doses of a standardized extract each day. Additionally, a few studies suggest that combining the natural amino acid L-phenylalanine with ultraviolet light exposure may cause repigmentation of vitiligo spots. Another supplement that may help is khellin, an extract of the fruit of the Mediterranean plant khella. [source: University of Michigan Health System].
Remember, while vitiligo cannot be cured, patients can live a long, healthy life with the condition, especially if they learn how to understand and cope with it. For much more information on this topic, read on to the following page.
Related HowStuffWorks Articles
- American Skin Association. "Vitiligo and Pigment Cell Biology." (Accessed 7/30/09) http://www.americanskin.org/resource/vitiligo.php
- American Vitiligo Research Foundation. "Vitiligo Signs and Symptoms." (Accessed 7/30/09) http://www.avrf.org/facts/signs.htm
- CNN. "Actress: Michael Jackson's Glove Was to Hide Skin Problem." (Accessed 7/30/09) http://www.cnn.com/2009/SHOWBIZ/07/09/michael.jackson.glove/
- Mayo Clinic. "Vitiligo: Treatment and Drugs." (Accessed 7/30/09) http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/vitiligo/DS00586/DSECTION=treatments-and-drugs
- National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. "Questions and Answers about Vitiligo." (Accessed 7/30/09)http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Vitiligo/
- National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. "Dietary Supplement Fact Sheets." (Accessed 7/30/09) http://ods.od.nih.gov/Health_Information/Information_About_Individual_Dietary_Supplements.aspx
- National Vitiligo Foundation. "Info About Vitiligo." (Accessed 7/30/09)http://nvfi.org/index.php
- University of Maryland Medical Center. "Dermatology: Anatomy of the Skin." (Accessed 7/30/09) http://www.umm.edu/dermatology-info/anatomy.htm
- University of Michigan Health System. "Healthwise Knowledge Base, Alternative Medicine: Vitiligo http://health.med.umich.edu/healthcontent.cfm?xyzpdqabc=0&id=6&action=detail&AEProductID=HW_CAM&AEArticleID=hn-1288002
- Vitiligo Support Forum. (Accessed 7/30/09)http://vitiligoforum.com/default.aspx
- Vitiligo Support International. "Vitiligo and Diet." (Accessed 7/30/09) http://www.vitiligosupport.org/treatments_and_research/diet.cfm
- 20/20. "Vitiligo - Lee Thomas - Turning White 2020 Interview." YouTube. (Accessed 7/30/09) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EIyQvcuTJYA&feature=related