Evidence is increasing for proof that vitamin D3 may be a determining factor in positive changes in the immune system, thereby benefiting basically all patients with any autoimmune disease. There have been some recent studies related to multiple sclerosis and vitamin D3 that are showing promising results.
What is multiple sclerosis?
Multiple sclerosis, or MS as it is frequently called, is an autoimmune disease. Autoimmune diseases are marked by the body’s immune system reaction in certain areas of the body. With MS, the immune system attacks the protective covering of the nerve-endings called the myelin sheath. The areas of the body most affected are the brain, spinal cord and the optic nerves. The most common symptoms are:
Changes in vision
Numbness and tingling in extremities
Treatment thus far has been successful in relieving symptoms and delaying the progression. A cure has not been found. But there is hope.
Vitamin D3 has been shown to be effective in treating many other autoimmune diseases. I know personally that it is very helpful with eczema and psoriasis.
I have a friend who states that vitamin D3 played a very major role in overcoming cancer in his body. Cancer that doctors said there was nothing more they could do that would help him or cure him.
Researchers do know that people who grow up in areas with less sunshine such as those further from the equator seem to be more likely to have multiple sclerosis. They have discovered that there are vitamin D receptors in cells in the nervous system as well as in the immune system.
Research has even found that, when people move to another country, their risk factors for multiple sclerosis depend on their age at the time they leave their native land. If they leave during childhood the risk seems to be similar to risk factors in their new country. If they leave when they are twenty or older the risk is more associated with the risk factors of the country where they were born.
Here is a world map showing incidences of multiple sclerosis:
The lighter colors indicate fewer incidences. The darker would indicate higher incidences.
The Journal of the American Medical Association published a study showing that, in patients with lower levels of vitamin D were actually 62% more likely to develop multiple sclerosis and other autoimmune diseases.
Recently, studies have been done on the effects of large doses of vitamin D3 in patients with MS. It has already been determined that low levels of vitamin D3 are responsible for greater risk of developing MS.
Research has also shown that as many as 90% of multiple sclerosis patients are found to be vitamin D deficient.
Because of these growing revelations, doctors are beginning to look at the possibility that vitamin D3 might be of some benefit to patients suffering with multiple sclerosis. Some studies have already been done.
Oxford University identified a link between vitamin D3 and a specific gene associated with multiple sclerosis in 2009. The gene associated with multiple sclerosis seemed to be weaker when vitamin d levels were higher.
According to Dr. Peter Calabresi, Director of the Johns Hopkins Multiple Sclerosis Center, high doses of vitamin D3 were given to patients for six months. The result was a reduction in the percentage of inflammatory T cells.
Patients were given 800 international units of vitamin D3 in supplement form for a period of six months.
Patients with severe vitamin D deficiency were not included in this study.
Another study done in Finland in 2012 showed that patients given vitamin D3 supplements showed a significant reduction in lesions on their brain scans after twelve months. These lesions are an indicator of damage to nerve cells in various areas of the body.
Now I don’t know about you, but all this makes me want to call everyone I know with any autoimmune disease and tell them to get on vitamin D3 yesterday!! Especially anyone I know that suffers with multiple sclerosis.
But folks, it gets even better than that. Because of all these findings, more and more doctors are beginning to take a serious look at vitamin D3.
This is going to be studied further to see just how much improvement can be reached and/or whether or not this could be the answer to the debilitating symptoms of MS.
Newer information suggests that patients may need anywhere from 5,000 to 8,000 IU of vitamin D3 to bring their blood levels up to a level where vitamin D3 is helpful and benefit gained.
How Do We Get Vitamin D3 Other Than In Supplements?
Vitamin D3 is known as the sunshine vitamin. Exposure to sunlight can help the body’s natural production of vitamin D.
Vitamin D3 can be found in some foods. Milk and butter often have vitamin D added to “fortify” them. Some yogurt has vitamin D in it and some cereals also have vitamin D3 added. It can be found in small amounts in foods such as eggs, meat and oily fish such as salmon.
Checking Vitamin D3 Levels
You should certainly ask your doctor or health care professional to check your vitamin d levels, especially if you want to begin taking vitamin D3. It’s best to be certain that you are deficient. Most doctors agree that these levels should be checked in patients with autoimmune disease.
There are still questions to be answered in the relationship between vitamin D3 and multiple sclerosis but, as I stated, more research is being done. I believe that we need to take a much closer look at vitamin D3 deficiency in autoimmune disease in general, not just for treating multiple sclerosis.