There has been a lot of research lately on the connection between Multiple Sclerosis and vitamin D. Researchers have linked low levels to an increased risk of developing MS and possibly worsen the severity of MS in those already affected.
Vitamin D Sources
The best way to get vitamin D is from the sun, that’s why it’s called the sunshine vitamin but it’s not always possible to get enough from the sun. A few reasons more and more people are deficient is because:
- Sunscreen. There has been a huge campaign about wearing sunscreen for protection from skin cancer, unfortunately, as people slather on the sunscreen it also decreases your skin’s ability to absorb vitamin D and causes more people to become deficient. Spend about 15 minutes in the early morning or late evening outdoors without sunscreen.
- Sunlight. People are spending too much of their time indoors and not enough time outdoors if you’re stuck in an office all day or housebound. It’s important to make an effort to spend at least 15 minutes each day outdoors soaking up some rays, avoid the hottest time of the day to prevent from getting sunburned. If your heat intolerant, spend time outdoors in the cooler part of the day.
- Location. People who live further away from the equator and don’t see the sun as often have a greater risk of developing MS. If a person lived closer to the equator but moved further north before the age of 15, their risk increases but if they moved after 15 their risk doesn’t increase. Researchers believe the more sun exposure someone has as a child, the less likely they will have MS. I live and grew up in Idaho, I can go days even weeks during the winter months without ever seeing the sun due to cloud cover.
It’s hard to get enough of it through food due to the fact that only a few foods naturally contain significant amounts of vitamin D. In the United States, there are a few foods that have been artificially fortified with vitamin D which include milk, cereals, and orange juice. Milk contains dairy and cereals contain gluten. Both are inflammatory foods and creates a leaky gut which should be avoided. Orange juice contains high amounts of natural sugars, it’s best not to load up on natural sugars. It’s important to keep your blood sugar levels normal to avoid quick spikes and dips.
Not Just for Bone Health
Researchers are discovering the importance of how much Vitamin D is to those with MS. It not only plays an important role in bone health but also in the immune and nervous system. Many people with MS (pwMS) have a vitamin D deficiency. They also have a higher than average rate of Osteopenia and it’s severe form Osteoporosis which is thinning of the bones.
As pwMS begin to have problems with their balance, dizziness, and/or difficulties with walking they increase their risk of falling. Having osteopenia/osteoporosis makes this a very bad combination and possibly getting seriously hurt. Vitamin D helps with neurological function and have the ability to calm the attacking immune cells which destroy the myelin sheath. It has important effects on your nerve, muscle, bone density, and overall general health by balancing your immune system.
Exposing your skin to sunlight every day is the best way to absorb vitamin D, although the sun doesn’t provide it itself it does promote the synthesis of the vitamin. It is a fat-soluble vitamin, it needs to absorb dietary fat in order to absorb the vitamin but because your body is fighting toxins such as gluten your body doesn’t have the ability to absorb the nutrients.
A 2012 research team from Finland discovered that taking vitamin D supplements significantly reduced the number of brain lesions. For those with MS, the bodies immune system attacks the protective covering surrounding the nerves of the central nervous system of the brain or spinal cord and leaving scars also known as lesions. At this time, researchers are still unclear as to how much vitamin D a person needs to prevent or treat MS.
When tested don’t expect a “normal” from your doctor. Instead get the actual number. Doctors use a number system of 30 to 100. If your number is 34 it’s considered normal when actually it’s too low. Your ideal number should be between 60-80 and not over 100 ng/ml.
There are two different forms of vitamin D they are vitamin D2 and vitamin D3. Vitamin D3, called cholecalciferol, is crucial for promoting calcium absorption in the bones. Study after study has proven vitamin D3 to be the best for the human body, it is better absorbed and utilized than vitamin D2.
My functional medical doctor recommended Vitamin D/K2 Liquid by Thorne Research that way I’m not swallowing lots of pills. The vitamin d in this product is vitamin D3.
It’s also important to take vitamin K2 along with vitamin D. Vitamin K2 helps deposit the calcium in appropriate locations throughout your body. Preventing calcium from depositing where it shouldn’t belong like organs, arteries, and joint spaces. I actually had this happen to me, I was having extreme pain on my upper arm. It got so painful I couldn’t move my arm and I went to see an orthopedic specialist who discovered it was a calcium deposit hooking into my muscle every time I moved my arm.
Vitamin K2 and vitamin D3 work together absorbing the calcium and placing it where it belongs. Studies have also shown a vitamin D toxicity may arise from a vitamin K2 deficiency.
It may also play a significant role in the regeneration of myelin repair by increasing the production rate by 80%. A high dose of vitamin D supplements has been recommended for pwMS. According to the Mayo Clinic “If you are diagnosed with vitamin D deficiency, it may be appropriate to use up to 50,000 IUs weekly for up to three months until your levels become normal, and then switch to a maintenance dose.”
Don’t start taking lots of vitamin D supplements before talking to your doctor and getting tested. It is possible to get too much of the vitamin which is toxic. It can cause high levels of calcium in the blood. Over a long-term intake of a high dose, it could increase your risk of cancer, heart disease, and bone fractures from falls.
Foods with Vitamin D
- Fatty Fish (salmon, mackerel, trout, sardines)
- Beef Liver
- Egg Yolks
Get a good night’s restorative sleep and remove stress!
Most pwMS live further away from the equator. The further away, the less vitamin D. Vitamin D plays a critical role in MS by slowing down the disease. Try to get 10-15 minutes of sunshine every day.
Contact your doctor and get your vitamin D level tested. Don’t expect a “normal” get the actual number they should be between 60-80 ng/mL. Make sure to take a vitamin D3/K2 supplement. Overall if you need to take a lot of vitamin D supplements look into using the liquid form.
You may also like reading: Is There A Cure For Multiple Sclerosis? Part 1
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