Multiple Sclerosis is a chronic autoimmune disease of the central nervous system affecting the brain, spinal cord and optic nerve. The myelin sheath covering nerve fibers is damaged by inflammation, affecting nerve impulses. There has been much in the news lately about the CCSVI theory of MS and Dr. Zamboni’s “Liberation Treatment” (a topic for a future column), but another theory links MS to a vitamin D deficiency.
Several facts and observations link MS to vitamin D:
• MS is more frequent at high latitudes (such as Saskatchewan)
• Increased sun exposure is associated with a reduced risk of MS
• More frequent MS symptoms are reported during winter and spring
• A 2011 British study found that UVB exposure [the sunlight that creates vitamin D] could explain 61% of MS prevalence in England
• Lower levels of vitamin D are linked to a higher risk of MS
Vitamin D is believed to affect MS by suppressing cytokines, which reduces inflammation. A 2009 study found that Vitamin D controls a gene variant known to increase the risk of MS, and suggested that a deficiency of vitamin D during fetal development and early childhood may increase the risk of developing MS. While vitamin D’s role in preventing MS is clear, its use as a treatment is controversial. The official line is that there is no evidence supporting amelioration of symptoms by supplementation; many people with MS, however, have reported improvements. Dr. Joseph Mercola recommends optimizing vitamin D levels to between 50-70 ng/ml for healthy adults, and even higher for people with chronic auto-immune diseases His preferred source is sunbathing; with high D3 supplementation he strongly recommends blood levels be monitored to avoid overdosing.
For more information, see vitamindcouncil.org and mercola.com
This article is intended for educational purposes only; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.