When you notice white patches on your skin, you might want to visit a dermatologist immediately to find out if you have vitiligo, a skin condition characterized by the loss of pigment. This happens when melanocytes, the cells responsible for the production of melanin, the pigment that gives our skin its normal color, are destroyed or unable to function normally. While the white patches that mark vitiligo more commonly appear in areas that are more exposed to the sun such as the face, hands and feet, they tend to appear in the armpits, groin and the genital area as well. Anyone could develop vitiligo, regardless of gender, race or age.
To this very day, scientists cannot definitely say what causes vitiligo. It is long regarded as an autoimmune disease, but several studies also suspect genetics, stress, trauma and nutritional deficiencies have something to do with the condition, which affects millions of people all over the world.
There have been several studies that show people with vitiligo have abnormally low levels of Vitamin B12 compared to control subjects. Also known as cobalamin, Vitamin B 12 is a nutrient that is essential for, among other things, the normal activity of nerve cells. Used in conjunction with folate and vitamin B6, Vitamin B12 also helps lower levels of homocysteine, a chemical could contribute to heart disease, in the blood. On top of all this, Vitamin B12 also helps keep our nerve tissues healthy, and the formation of red blood cells normal. Among the better-known consequences of a vitamin B12 deficiency is anemia, a decrease in the number of red blood cells.
Further research has also revealed that an increased intake of Vitamin B12 coupled with phototherapy, the process of exposing affected areas to ultraviolet light, has yielded positive results for those with vitiligo. In some cases, the patients have experienced a halt to their depigmentation, while some have even reported repigmentation of their affected skin area.
In many cases, doctors will prescribe vitamin B12 supplementation to make up for the deficiency. However, the stomach and digestive problems that often come with vitiligo can interfere with the body’s absorption of Vitamin B12. This is why instead of oral supplements like sublingual drops or vi
In any case, vitiligo patients would still do well to increase their vitamin B12 intake by eating foods that are rich in the nutrient. It can be found in most animal foods, particularly beef liver and clams, which have very high concentrations of the vitamin. Other animal foods that are rich sources of vitamin B12 include trout, haddock and salmon. Apart from animal foods, vitamin B12 can be found in fortified breakfast cereals and yogurt as well.