Many patients and their loved ones wonder why vegetarians manifest vitiligo since meat and milk have beeen implicated–and rightly so–in many autoimmune and degenerative diseases. Yes, meat (or fish) and milk cannot take all the blame for vitiligo since vitiligo is also found in vegetarians as well as meat eaters.
We live in an imperfect world and vegetarianism is not a cure all. Radiant health is a multifactorial phenomenon and doing one thing and neglecting others may equally spell disaster. Being a vegetarian is better and healthier lifestyle than meat-based diet. This does not mean that vegetarianism does not have it’s own drawbacks.
Vitiligo is a nutrient deficient and degenerative disorder and anything that causes imbalance or distrupts homeostasis can derange the body’s immune system. This leads to predisposition to vitiligo (skin depigmentation) and other associated autoimmune diseases.
We should stop asking what type of disease a person has and focus on what type of person has the disease. Disease in general is a product of choice and human behavior which is based on belief system.
Vegetarians are also prone to nutrient deficiency and depletion like the rest of the population. In fact, vegetarian diet may lack many vital nutrients which are natural healers of vitiligo. Remember that the body does not heal vitiligo differently from any other disease. Vegetarians are also subject to organ pollution and nutrient insufficiency. This internal imbalance shows up as “skin disease” which is an outward reflection or window to internal disharmony. Nature tends towards healing and balance and anything that distrupts this homeostasis exposes the body to disease.
For instance, most vegetarians eat a lot of sugar including fruit sugars (fructose) that produce acid wastes. Well, sugars of all types can distrupt the immune system and cause tissue breakdown as in vitiligo. Sugars also deplete vital B-complex vitamins just like alcohol or yeast fermentation. Most vegetarians eat moldy nuts, seeds, grains and dried sugary fruits which form fungal toxins that deplete the body’s nutrient reserve and pollute the immune system. Lack of B-complex vitamins have been implicated in the etiology of vitiligo.
Most grains, nuts and seed contain phytates and oxalates that prevent absorption of zinc. Zinc is necessary as a cofactor that catalize 600 enzymatic reactions in the body. Zinc is the beauty trace mineral because it nourishes the skin, supports the thyroid and heals the genes. In short, zinc is an antioxidant that fight free radicals and antagonize heavy metals. Zinc is also necessary for tissue repair, growth and regeration. “This includes speeding up metabolism and repair of worn out genes including healing the melanocytes in vitiligo.
Malabsorption of nutrient and lack of meat in the diet can cause B12 deficiency (pernicious anemia) which is common in vegetarians. This is due to lack of acid and intrinsic factor in the stomach (gastric neck cells) which secrete mucoprotein necessary for B12 absorption in terminal ileum (the last part of small intestines).
Most vegetarians also lack riboflavin (B2). This is the vitamin that gives urine its golden yellow color when you take synthetic B-complex vitamins. Riboblavin is a precursor for FAD (flavin adenine dinucleotide) which is necessary for generation of energy (ATP) from the food we eat. Melanocytes (pigment producint cells need this nutrient for energy as well as making melanin for skin repigmentation.
Fruits and vegetables are not free of toxic heavy metals and other contaminants. However, organic fruits and vegetables are ten times less toxic than animal products. Toxic heavy metals like lead, arsenic, mercury, and cadmium act as free radicals which provoke silent low-grade inflammation, and circulating immune complexes which are implicated in inflammatory vitiligo. Patients have cleared their vitiligo just by removing dental mercury fillings. Many vegetarians develop vitiligo because most stale fruits and vegetables are enzyme poor. This is because most fruits are picked (for commercial purposes) about 4 weeks before they reach the stores. By this time, more than 75% of the enzyme content are gone. This lead to malabsorption and nutrient depletion which shows up as vitiligous skin lesion in the predisposed.
You can see that vegetarianism does not protect from vitiligo if the vegan fail to supplement with digestive enzymes, detoxify his organs from pollutants that deplete vital nutrients and fight free radical damage from all angles. Supplemental B-complex (especially riboflavin, B5 and B12) is vital. Supplementing zinc and magnesium which is depleted by food processing and eating too much grains by vegans is also important. The thyroid could also suffer from eating too much goitrogens like spinach and broccoli.