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Vitamin D deficiency is epidemic but Vitamin D may help prevent MS relapses November 16, 2009

Posted by Rebecca Hoover in Supplements - what you need to minimize MS symptoms.
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Loves Vitamin D3 for strength and bone building - so sizzling!

Recovering from a Vitamin D deficiency makes you this happy. Vitamin D3 rocks!

Can Vitamin D help prevent multiple sclerosis (MS)? The evidence certainly seems to point in that direction. MS is rare where people get adequate Vitamin D. Even more exciting, Vitamin D may turn out to be central in treating multiple sclerosis.

One study reported in 2009 compared MS patients who took 14,000 I.U. of Vitamin D3 each day with those who took only 1,000 I.U. of the vitamin. The group taking 14,000 I.U. of Vitamin D3 cut their relapse rate by 41% compared with only 17% for those taking the lower dose. The 41% is amazing! This beats the MS drugs such as the interferons — they reduce the frequency by about 30%. At the same time, studies have shown Vitamin D3 is safe!

It is no wonder the Australian MS society has now issued an advisory recommending one very high dose of Vitamin D3 for MS patients who have low levels of Vitamin D3 in their bodies. That society now recommends that a one time dose of 500,000 I.U. be used, when appropriate, to increase levels of Vitamin D in those with MS.

Medical journals are filled with articles about the current Vitamin D deficiency epidemic both in the United State and Europe, and some researchers have found that 60% of those with MS have a Vitamin D deficiency. A Vitamin D deficiency is very problematic for those with MS because many researchers have long believed a Vitamin D shortage helps cause MS and some researchers have long believed adequate levels of Vitamin D may help prevent MS relapses. Also, a shortage of Vitamin D causes weakness — which is the last thing someone with MS needs.

If you have MS and you feel weak, your problem might not be MS but a Vitamin D deficiency. What should you do?

You can ask your doctor to test the amount of Vitamin D in your blood. This simple test can help prevent all kinds of problems. Scientists believe Vitamin D not only plays a role in MS, it also helps prevent cancer, heart attacks and bone loss.

Some experts believe that your Vitamin D level should at the high end of the normal range between 50 and 60 ng/ml (or about 200 nmol/L if the nmol/L scale is used) . Others believe a lower amount will do but why take a chance when you have MS. Those who believe the smaller amount will suffice are not experts in the treatment of MS.

Do be careful because, while overdoses are rare, you can get too much Vitamin D.  A reasonable dose might be between 1,000 and 2,000 I.U. of Vitamin D3 (not D2 which does not absorb well) per day but this varies by person and it is unlikely this low amount will be enough. This amount, for example, is not enough for me. If I take only 2,000 I.U. of Vitamin D3, my blood level of Vitamin D3 begins falling. I have to take between 3,000 I.U. and 4,000 I.U. to keep my blood level of Vitamin D stable and research shows that this amount is required for many persons. Currently, I take between 4,000 I.U. and 5,000 I.U. each day. Many experts believe that those with MS need to watch their Vitamin D levels very carefully and to keep this level at the higher end of the normal range.

It is important to talk to your doctor, have your level tested and monitor your Vitamin D level. A test every three to six months for a few years and then once a year will give you the information you need to learn to regulate your Vitamin D level. Also, please remember that Vitamin D3 is a fat soluble vitamin so it should be taken with some fat from olive oil, fish oil. sunflower seeds, walnuts, etc. A half teaspoon of oil, a tablespoon of sunflower seeds or a few half walnuts of fat is sufficient.

If you are one of the 60% of those with MS who have a Vitamin D shortage, just this one simple thing is going to make you feel better. Best of all, some scientists think enough Vitamin D will help prevent relapses as mentioned above. You can also get Vitamin D3 by spending time in the sun with your arms, legs and face exposed (use no sunscreen). Ten to 15 minutes per day at noon (when the sun is most direct) is all that is needed for a fair-skinned person; more for a darker person. Do avoid burning, though, because that can lead to cancer.

Also, when you start taking Vitamin D3 supplements or spending time in the sun, please be patient. It takes at least three to six months to increase the blood level of Vitamin D to the desired range. If you want faster results, some doctors recommend the mega dose now recommended by the Australian MS society.

Please let me know if you find my blog helpful. Please add a comment. What did you like? What would you like added? Thanks! Together we can change the way the world views MS. Please also join the Intelligent Guide to MS page on Facebook. I will use that page to make timely posts on new research and other issues likely to be of interest to others.

Please remember to consult with your doctors about how to stay as healthy as possible. Nothing here should be interpreted as medical advice. Instead, please use the information you find here in your discussions with your doctor.

Copyright 2009 Rebecca Hoover

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Tags: Class, Fatigue, MS, Multiple Sclerosis, Prevent, Relapses, Science, Sizzle, Vitamin D

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Comments»

1. Alicia Thompson - January 23, 2010

I have relasping MS. I started looking at my levels of D3 and found I was quite low. I can feel when my body is winding down. My right leg drags and I have horrible back spasms. I have gotten my d3 levels higher but I also feel my siatic nerve comes into play. I thank you for your blog please add me to your list. It has been very helpful.

2. Sarah - July 1, 2010

I’ve been looking into Vit D Supplments. I had my levels tested about a month ago and was told I was mildly deficient with a reading of 52. My GP recommended taking 400iu per day until the winter of next year. Having read many articles about it I have upped my dosage to 5000iu per day. However, if I am able to get my arms and legs out in the sun for half an hour I don’t take it. Now I have no idea is if this is a sensible approach or not. I can’t talk to my GP because I know that 400iu is too little. Any advice or thoughts would be appreciated

Rebecca Hoover - July 1, 2010

Hi,

I am glad you are thinking about vitamin D3 supplements. I think they are crucial. One study showed that those taking 14,000 IU of vitamin D3 each day for a year had 40% fewer relapses. That means vitamin D3 workers better than the MS meds. Keep in mind, I am not a doctor but a lot of doctors are recommending higher doses of vitamin D3 for those with MS. The Austrailiam MS society even recommends a one-time dose of 400,000 IU of vitamin D3 to eliminate a vitamin D deficiency in those with MS.

Most I know take either 10,000 IU of vitamin D3 each day if they are trying to increase their blood level of vitamin D. If they are trying to maintain the current level, they take 5,000 IU. Getting a little sun exposure does not change these dosages for most. Merely exposing the arms and legs is not a lot of exposure.

Exactly how much vitamin D3 you need to take depends upon things such as your size, whether you are overweight, etc. Being overweight makes it more difficult to maintain an adequate level of vitamin D in the blood because vitamin D will be absorbed by fat and then not released for use elsewhere in the body. If I had a deficiency I would take 10,000 IU and then have my blood level tested in three months to make sure things are headed in the right direction. It takes some time to figure out the right dose for each person.

Good luck! You’re smart to address this issue.

Rebecca

Rebecca Hoover - July 2, 2010

Alan,

Mooning the neighbors? Hardly. I grew up in a little Methodist church in rural Minnesota and I am personally very conservative about my lifestyle. I intensely dislike conspicuous displays of possessions, sexual humor or anything else. I wouldn’t even be running around in a bikini if it were not an issue of health.

I’m glad you’re feeling better. Some times one does need a rest from exercise. If you have having cramps you might want to review your potassium intake. Eating bananas and Russet potatoes do help with cramps sometimes (both are good sources of potassium). Also, stretching exercises do help.

Hang in there. I’m glad to hear things are picking up.

By the way, what do you mean? Google thinks my name is misspelled? What message do you get from Google?

Rebeeca

3. Sarah - July 10, 2010

Hi Rebecca

I’ve done some more research on Vit D and have found something quite startling. I think my son who is now 4 was deficient at birth due to my own deficiency at the time.

The signs of deficiency in children are:

Ricketts or soft skull. My son had severe brachycephaly (flat head syndrome) we helmeted him for a while because of it. He slept on his back and due to the soft skull his head became mis-shapen

Late arrival of milk teeth. My son got his first tooth at 1 and his canines did not appear until he was 2.

Late to walk. My son did not start walking til he we 18 months.

Infections especially respiratory. My son had countless chest infections in the first year. On one occasion he was hospitalised for this.

I think there are too many coincidences here.

They say that MS is not genetic but it does run in families. How can that be? Is it because the vitamin deficiency in expectant mothers is passed down to her children and that’s how siblings are more at risk if one is diagnosed with MS?

I think it could be a very real possibility.

4. Rebecca Hoover - July 10, 2010

Sarah,

You have made a very good guess on the relationship between low vitamin D levels in mothers and later development of MS in their offspring. The research shows that children born of mothers deficient in vitamin D are indeed more likely to develop MS.

Apparently, there is some genetic link too with MS but it is weak.

It is shocking isn’t it, that the widespread vitamin D deficiencies that are occurring because so many are avoiding the sun, are likely to lead to many new cases of MS? We all need to work as hard as we can to ensure the widespread vitamin D defiiciency problem is addressed. Here in the USA, experts believe about 42% have a vitamin D defiicency.

I hope you now have your son and any other children now taking vitamin D supplements if needed. Lancet, a leading medical journal, recommends widespread use of vitamin D supplements largely because of the MS issue.

I am very sorry to hear about your son and hope he is feeling better now.

Rebecca


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