Vitamin D and Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is a terrible illness.  It is an inflammatory disease where the immune system destroys the myelin that protects nerve cells in the brain and help them function correctly.  This can cause numbness, weakness and the inability to talk, walk, eat and generally function independently.

No one knows what causes multiple sclerosis.  However, we do know that a specific vitamin greatly affects the disease.

This vitamin is vitamin D.  Vitamin D is produced in our skin when it is exposed to sunlight.  It is also available in food sources such as fortified milk, cod liver oil and fatty fish like tuna and salmon.  There is a big connection between blood vitamin D and multiple sclerosis.

Researchers recently showed that blood vitamin D levels are linked to how a multiple sclerosis patient’s illness will behave.  For instance, higher blood vitamin D levels are linked to slower development of new active lesions and a lower relapse rate.

The same researchers published a study a year later showing that even in patients being treated with medication for their multiple sclerosis, vitamin D levels are important.  Even when patients receive beta-interferon (an injected medication used to treat multiple sclerosis) higher levels of vitamin D are associated with less development of new multiple sclerosis brain lesions seen on MRI.

So does vitamin D supplementation affect the course of multiple sclerosis?  The answer seems to be yes.  Researchers gave vitamin D supplements to patients with optic neuritis (an eye problem considered a precursor to multiple sclerosis).  Those who used supplements to improve their blood levels of vitamin D had lower risk of developing multiple sclerosis during the study follow-up period.

How does it work?  It seems that vitamin D levels affect the levels of inflammatory molecules in the body.  For instance, interleukin-17 is a molecule that is highly associated with multiple sclerosis activity in the body.  Researchers found that supplementing vitamin D helped keep interleukin-17 levels from rising over time, an effect that may help explain why higher vitamin D levels seem to be protective against multiple sclerosis disease progression.

What does all this mean?  If you or someone you love has multiple sclerosis, talk to your doctor about having your vitamin D levels tested.  If your levels are low (or you live in an area away from the equator, where it’s harder to get vitamin D from the sun) consider taking a vitamin D supplement to get and keep your levels up.

What about those of us who don’t have multiple sclerosis?  Vitamin D supplements are smart for everyone if you tend to avoid the sun or live away from the equator.  Vitamin D receptors are present in EVERY cell in your body.  We don’t know everything vitamin D does in our body, but clearly it is super important!  Make sure your body is getting enough!

If you’re interested in taking a vitamin D supplement, please consider trying Vita D3 by the Shaklee Corporation.  I have been a Shaklee supplement user for 10 years, and a distributor for 8 years.  Want to know why?  Click this link to find out why Shaklee is the company I trust with my patients’, my family’s and my own health.

QUESTION: Do you take extra vitamin D?  Why or why not?

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