Oral and Topical Vitamin D, Sunshine, and UVB Phototherapy Safely Control Psoriasis in Patients with Normal Pretreatment Serum 25-Hydroxyvitamin D Concentrations: A Literature Review and Discussion of Health Implications

Nutrients. 2021 Apr 29;13(5):1511. doi: 10.3390/nu13051511.


Vitamin D, sunshine and UVB phototherapy were first reported in the early 1900s to control psoriasis, cure rickets and cure tuberculosis (TB). Vitamin D also controlled asthma and rheumatoid arthritis with intakes ranging from 60,000 to 600,000 International Units (IU)/day. In the 1980s, interest in treating psoriasis with vitamin D rekindled. Since 1985 four different oral forms of vitamin D (D2, D3, 1-hydroxyvitaminD3 (1(OH)D3) and 1,25-dihydroxyvitaminD3 (calcitriol)) and several topical formulations have been reported safe and effective treatments for psoriasis-as has UVB phototherapy and sunshine. In this review we show that many pre-treatment serum 25(OH)D concentrations fall within the current range of normal, while many post-treatment concentrations fall outside the upper limit of this normal (100 ng/mL). Yet, psoriasis patients showed significant clinical improvement without complications using these treatments. Current estimates of vitamin D sufficiency appear to underestimate serum 25(OH)D concentrations required for optimal health in psoriasis patients, while concentrations associated with adverse events appear to be much higher than current estimates of safe serum 25(OH)D concentrations. Based on these observations, the therapeutic index for vitamin D needs to be reexamined in the treatment of psoriasis and other diseases strongly linked to vitamin D deficiency, including COVID-19 infections, which may also improve safely with sufficient vitamin D intake or UVB exposure.

Keywords: COVID-19; D2; UVB; calcitriol; oral; phototherapy; psoriasis; regulatory T lymphocytes; serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D; skin diseases; sunshine; topical; vitamin D3.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19* / blood
  • COVID-19* / therapy
  • Humans
  • Psoriasis* / blood
  • Psoriasis* / therapy
  • SARS-CoV-2 / metabolism*
  • Sunlight*
  • Ultraviolet Therapy*
  • Vitamin D / analogs & derivatives*
  • Vitamin D / blood
  • Vitamin D / therapeutic use


  • Vitamin D
  • 25-hydroxyvitamin D