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6 foods you can eat to improve your vitiligo

Learn about the 6 foods you can eat to improve your vitiligo according to scientific literature.

Vitiligo is a dermatosis that causes white spots on the skin as a result of the destruction of pigment-producing cells (melanocytes).

It affects approximately 1% of the population and even when it produces nothing more than spots on the skin, patients are affected by their image. The cause of vitiligo is not known, but it is known that patients with vitiligo suffer from oxidative stress on your skin that destroys melanocytes.

In this post, I review how some foods can help reduce that stress on the skin and help traditional treatments for vitiligo protect melanocytes. In other words, I am going to tell you several foods that you can eat to improve your vitiligo.

What is vitiligo and how is it treated?

Vitiligo is a dermatosis that affects approximately 1% of the population and produces white spots on the skin. The disfigurement caused by vitiligo affects the quality of life of patients.

The treatment of vitiligo requires the combination of topical treatments in the form of creams and phototherapy (light that imitates the sun on the skin) in more extensive cases to recolor (re-pigment) the spots.

In my experience as a dermatologist, vitiligo treatment is long, requiring a minimum of 6 to 12 months and a lot of patience. Vitiligo requires long-term treatment and is not always effective, so the doctor-patient relationship should be maintained as much as possible. It is essential that the patient feels comfortable and that we honestly explain the treatment and their expectations.

On the other hand, the melanocyte, like the patient, must also be treated with care. And when it appears, in other words, when the patient begins to re-pigment, it is essential that it does not disappear again. This is why, in my opinion, it is essential to promote an environment without oxidative stress in the skin appropriate for the melanocyte.

In more scientific terms, elevated markers of oxidative damage are found in the epidermis and blood of vitiligo patients, producing ROS (oxygen free radicals) and hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) (1). There are several studies that suggest that oxidative stress is crucial in the genesis of vitiligo, causing inflammation, autoimmunity and death of melanocytes in the skin (2).

Discover the 6 foods you can eat to improve your vitiligo

Immunonutrition attempts to modulate the immune system through the supply of nutrients. It is an emerging and promising discipline. Here you can visit the web portal of the International Society for Immunonutrition, ISIS (@ISImmunoNutr).

There are no studies or clinical trials in the reviewed literature that demonstrate how diet affects patients with vitiligo, thus, dietary recommendations are made approximately, looking for antioxidant and anti-inflammatory foods.

And what are the functional foods in vilitigo?

1. Green tea

It has been shown in in vitro (laboratory) and animal studies to protect melanocytes from oxidative stress (3).

2. Indian Gooseberry or Amla Fruit (Phyllanthus emblica)

A powerful oral antioxidant that also enhances the antioxidant action of vitamin C and E. In a group of patients with vitiligo treated with phototherapy, those who were super-supplemented with Amla and vitamins C, E and carotenes repigmented more and faster (4 ). Therefore, it is another of the foods that you can eat to improve your vitiligo.

3. Gingko Biloba

A classic. Its benefits as an antioxidant have been proven in various studies and it is one of the most studied medicinal herbs. In doses of 240 mg per day it is beneficial without producing side effects. In a 12-week clinical trial, Gingko biloba 60 mg daily in patients with vitiligo decreased the affected area (Vitiligo Area Score Index, VASI and European Vitiligo Task Force, VETF) (5).

4. Polypodium leucotomos

It is an extract from the fern grown in South America and is taken orally in doses of 250-720 mg per day. In Spain it is sold in pharmacies, patented under the name Fernblock. It has no side effects except for slight gastric discomfort. It has been shown in two clinical trials to increase repigmentation opportunities and repigmentation area by approximately 50% in vitiligo patients treated with phototherapy (6). As a dermatologist who is an expert in the treatment of vitiligo with phototherapy, I use it on all my patients.

5. Kelina (Ammi visnaga or biznaga extract)

It is an extract from an herb that grows wild in the Mediterranean. At a dose of 100 mg per day, it has been shown in two clinical trials combined with UVA, to increase the chances of repigmentation by approximately 50% on average. It can cause nausea and elevated transaminases (7). Additionally, 3% can be used as a topical cream combined with sun or UVA exposure, in a phototherapy modality called KUVA. As a vitiligo dermatologist, I use it on my vitiligo patients in the summer to avoid trips to the clinic for phototherapy.

6. turmeric or turmeric

Another classic to highlight among the foods you can eat to improve your vitiligo. It is capable of reducing the production of ROS in in vitro studies in the skin of patients with vitiligo. Its topical application combined with phototherapy appears to slightly increase the repigmentation rate of vitiligo spots.


In summary, functional nutrition along with an appropriate diet in vitiligo combined with medical treatments can be another option in the management of patients. Amla Fruit, Gingo Biloba, Kelina and Polypodium have been studied in patients with vitiligo improving the solution to phototherapy, and the latter is the most used in our country.


1. Mansuri MS, Jadeja S, Singh M, et al. Catalase gene promoter and untranslated region variants lead to altered gene expression and enzymatic activity in vitiligo. Br J Dermatol 2017; 177: 1590-1600.

2. Marie J, Kovacs D, Pain C. Inflammasome activation and progression of vitiligo/nonsegmental vitiligo. Br J Dermatol 2014; 170: 816-823.

3. Ning W, Wang S, Liu D et al. (2016). Potent effects of peracetylated-epigallocatechin-3-gallate against hydrogen peroxide-induced damage in human epidermal melanocytes through attenuation of oxidative stress and apoptosis. Experimental Clinical Dermatology2016; 41: 616–624.

4. Colucci R, Dragoni, F, Conti R, et al. Evaluation of an oral supplement containing Phyllanthus emblica fruit extracts, vitamin E and carotenoids in the treatment of vitiligo. Dermatological therapy 2015; 28:17-21.

5. Szczurko O, Shear N, Taddio A. et al. Ginkgo biloba for the treatment of vitiligo vulgaris: an open-label pilot clinical trial. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2011; eleven; twenty-one.

6. Middelkamp-Hup, MA, Bos, JD, Rius-Diaz, F., González, S. and Westerhof, W. (2007). Treatment of vitiligo vulgaris with narrow-band UVB and oral extract of Polypodium leucotomos: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology, 21 (7), 942–950.

7. Hofer, A, Kerl H, Wolf P. Long-term results in the treatment of vitiligo with oral khellin plus UVA. European Journal of Dermatology 2001; eleven; 225-229.

8. Asawanonda, P, Klahan S. Tetrahydrocurcuminoid cream plus targeted narrow-band UVB phototherapy for vitiligo: a preliminary randomized controlled study. Photomedicine and Laser Surgery 2010; 28; 679-684.