While no specific diet is recommended to treat vitiligo, eating certain foods, such as nuts, seeds, and oily fish, may be beneficial.
Vitiligo is an autoimmune condition in which the immune system attacks pigment cells in the skin. This causes inflammation that damages the cells, leading to loss of skin color.
To treat vitiligo, a dermatologist may recommend:
- light therapy
They may also recommend lifestyle strategies to manage the condition, including diet changes.
Scientists have not identified any diets or foods that can cure vitiligo, but certain eating patterns may help limit inflammation and promote overall wellness.
A quick look at what foods to eat and avoid with vitiligo:
A diet rich in certain nutrients can help promote physical and mental health. Antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids may be particularly helpful for limiting inflammation and promoting a healthy immune system, as well as providing various other health benefits.
Different types of fruits and vegetables contain different antioxidants, so eating various colored fruits and vegetables can help a person consume a variety of these compounds.
Antioxidants are also present in other plant-based foods, including:
People with vitiligo can consider including these foods in their diet.
Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of polyunsaturated fat. The body uses them to produce hormones for regulating blood clotting, artery function, and inflammation.
Swordfish contains high levels of mercury. Doctors advise children and people who are pregnant or nursing to eat fish lower in mercury.
Other good sources of omega-3 fatty acids include:
- nuts, particularly walnuts
- seeds, such as chia seeds, flaxseeds, and hemp seeds
- seaweed, such as dulse, hijiki, kombu, nori, or wakame
- plant-based oils, such as flaxseed and canola oil
People may also increase their consumption of omega-3 fatty acids by taking a fish oil or algal oil supplement.
Some foods may increase inflammation in the body. These include:
- processed meat, such as hot dogs and deli meats
- refined grains, such as white bread, white rice, white pasta, and pastries
- fried foods, such as french fries and chips
- sugar-sweetened beverages, such as soda
- desserts, such as cookies, candy, and ice cream
- excess alcohol
- excess carbohydrates
Limiting or avoiding these foods may help limit inflammation.
It is also best to avoid foods that contain trans fats. In 2018, the
- wheat and wheat-based flour, including all-purpose flour
- ancient forms of wheat, including einkorn, emmer, spelt, and Khorasan (Kamut)
- barley and barley-based malt
A person should speak with a doctor before cutting gluten from their diet. The doctor can help them understand the potential benefits and risks of a gluten-free diet.
According to a 2021 review, some research suggests that taking one or more of the following supplements may help improve symptoms of vitiligo:
- vitamin B12 and folic acid
- vitamin D
- vitamin E
However, the research evidence is limited, and not all studies have found benefits from taking supplements for vitiligo. More research is necessary to learn whether certain supplements can help treat this condition.
A person should speak with a doctor before taking a dietary or herbal supplement. The doctor can help them understand the potential benefits and risks.
In some cases, a doctor may order blood tests to determine whether the individual has low levels of certain nutrients. A doctor may also refer someone with vitiligo to a dietitian, who can help devise a suitable eating plan.
Below are some common questions about a diet for vitiligo.
What foods help with vitiligo?
Foods rich in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids may be particularly helpful for limiting inflammation and promoting a healthy immune system in people with vitiligo. These foods include walnuts, whole grains, mackerel, and seaweed.
Which food should a person avoid for vitiligo?
Avoiding foods that cause an inflammatory response may help reduce symptoms of vitiligo. These foods include processed meats, sodas, white bread, and wheat.
How can a person boost their immune system for vitiligo?
A person with vitiligo can support their immune system by reducing stress and eating a balanced, nutritious diet. Vitamin B12 and folic acid, vitamin D, and vitamin E supplements may also improve symptoms of vitiligo. However, more research is necessary.
There is currently no vitiligo-specific diet. More research is necessary to learn whether eating or avoiding certain foods may help limit vitiligo symptoms. More studies are also necessary to assess the potential benefits and risks of certain dietary or herbal supplements.
Eating a nutrient-rich diet that contains a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, legumes, seafood, and lean protein may help limit inflammation and promote good overall health.
Limiting red and processed meats, refined grains, fried foods, and sugar-sweetened beverages also provides health benefits.
A person can talk with a doctor to learn whether they might benefit from changing their diet or taking a supplement. The doctor may also refer them to a dietitian who can help them develop an eating plan that works best for them.