4 Types of Foods to Improve Vitiligo in Children

There are foods that can improve vitiligo in children. Those with antioxidants, B12, folic acid, vitamin D, and zinc are the most recommended.
4 Types of Foods to Improve Vitiligo in Children

Last update: 13 December, 2023

Vitiligo is a disease that produces white spots on visible areas of the skin, which affects the appearance and makes this a sensitive issue to address for parents and their children. In the quest to improve the well-being of the child with vitiligo, science has positioned nutrition as an integral part of its treatment, especially by recommending foods that are sources of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory components.

It’s important to remember that medical treatment is irreplaceable, so relying on food is a means to help those with vitiligo, but it’s not the solution. In this article, we’ll show you the four types of foods to improve vitiligo in your child, as well as review some alternative products and general recommendations for the child.

How to improve vitiligo in children through food

The first thing you should know is that there’s no specific diet for the treatment of vitiligo. However, the influence of some nutrients on the evolution of the disease has been studied.

Therefore, the following food recommendations are backed by science. And not only do they help with vitiligo, but they’re also good for the immune system and maintain skin health in the child.

1. Foods with antioxidants

Antioxidants are compounds that help protect cells from damage caused by oxidative stress, preventing the advance of free radicals. Many of these antioxidants are from red or yellow pigments, in addition to polyphenols found in vegetables and fruits.

Blueberry, raspberry, pumpkin, carrots, spinach, tomato, kale, and nuts are some foods with high levels of antioxidants, such as carotenoids, lycopene, anthocyanins, and tocopherols.

The work published in the journal Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity in 2022 revealed the importance of the use of antioxidants as part of the treatment plan for vitiligo.

Although the authors acknowledge that these are rarely used compounds for this skin condition, the study suggests that patients with more severe active vitiligo benefited most from combined oral and topical antioxidant therapy, as they have a greater excess of oxidants. However, they clarify that more studies are needed to confirm these results.

Another study investigated the effects of ascorbic acid in skin care. Its authors detail that this compound, also known as vitamin C, prevents the production of melanin despite its antioxidant and immunomodulatory capacity, which would help in vitiligo.

In general, this group of colorful foods is well received by children. Still, it doesn’t hurt to make the experience much more enjoyable through preparations that appeal to their eyes and palate.

2. Foods rich in vitamin B12 and folic acid

Vitamin B12, also known as cyanocobalamin, is the most associated with vitiligo, especially because there’s a deficiency in its levels when the disease appears. This is detailed in research published in the Journal of The American Academy of Dermatology.

Likewise, in an article published in the journal Cureus in 2022, a group of experts commented that vitamin B12, together with folic acid (B9), help with skin repigmentation in patients with vitiligo, but must be combined with sun exposure.

The main sources of vitamin B12 are foods of animal origin, such as meats, eggs, and dairy products. Data from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) regarding cyanocobalamin reveal that for every 100 grams of the following foods, you get:

Meat and milk cover close to 100% or more of the values recommended by the National Institute of Health for children up to 13 years of age. Eggs cover between 30 and 50 % of what they require.

On the other hand, the Spanish Heart Foundation highlights the folic acid in leafy greens, such as chard, spinach, kale, broccoli, peas, asparagus, legumes, cereal, peanuts, and hazelnuts.

Preparations with spinach or chard, such as croquettes and baked fritters, are healthy options to increase folic acid in children. So are broccoli au gratin and chickpea spread.

3. Foods with vitamin D

Although there’s not enough evidence and further research is recommended, so far, it’s known that low vitamin D values could cause vitiligo. For this reason, it’s important to maintain an adequate intake of this vitamin.

A study published in the journal Dermato-Endocrinology found that by administering 35,000 International Units of vitamin D to adults with vitiligo, skin repigmentation was achieved in 25-75% of the affected area.

Although no research was found in children, you can ask your doctor about the possible use of vitamin D in your child to improve vitiligo.

The foods that contain it the most are fish oil, fatty fish such as salmon and sardines, egg yolk, fortified dairy, cereals, and vegetable drinks fortified with vitamin D.

4. Zinc-containing foods

Zinc is a mineral that occurs naturally in the skin and is part of an enzyme with antioxidant properties (superoxide dismutase).

Regarding this relationship, a study published in the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology suggests that it’s possible that zinc protects melanocytes by preventing their cell death. Thus, zinc supplementation could be a beneficial treatment for vitiligo. However, some adverse gastric effects could limit it.

To avoid stomach problems, natural foods are a good option. The richest in zinc are red meat, poultry, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. So, it’s a matter of reviewing your recipe book and elaborating the best preparations for your child.

Recommendations on feeding children with vitiligo

Little has been studied on the consumption of certain foods and the evolution of vitiligo in children. However, considering the effects that some nutrients have on the development of the disease, their inclusion in the framework of a balanced and varied diet is recommended. Other recommendations are:

  • Have an adequate intake of lean proteins, such as chicken, fish, legumes, and beef, in order to maintain skin cell turnover.
  • Include omega-3 fatty acids in the menu, such as those found in salmon, sardines, trout, herring, nuts, and seeds. These are anti-inflammatory and can benefit skin health.
  • Avoid processed and sugar-rich foods. Instead, use fresh, natural foods.
  • Maintain adequate hydration.
  • Consult health professionals and don’t forget to visit a nutritionist. Also, if possible, a psychologist or counselor. They’ll be able to give you individualized recommendations for your child.

Alternative products

There are some supplements that are used for the treatment of vitiligo. An article in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine mentions that ginkgo biloba alone, the amino acid phenylalanine, and P. leucotomos, along with other therapies, may work positively in the treatment of vitiligo.

However, it also concludes that more studies are needed to explore this area. Although this study was conducted in adults and there are no results in children, it doesn’t hurt to consult with your doctor to evaluate if this is an option for your child.

The bottom line

It’s true that there is no definitive cure, but including foods with antioxidants, vitamin B12, folic acid, vitamin D, and zinc may help improve the symptoms of vitiligo in children and promote healthy skin. Every child is different, so seek personalized medical care!

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.