To grasp the connection between vitamin D and multiple sclerosis (MS), it is first important to understand this vitamin’s power. It is one of the “superhero” vitamins needed to help keep our bodies functioning properly.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, vitamin D is essential for us to absorb the calcium we need for strong bones and teeth. It also can block the release of the parathyroid hormone, which can produce soft or brittle bones by reabsorbing bone tissue.
The clinic also notes that vitamin D may aid muscle function and the body’s immune system, which is where the connection to MS comes into play. Because the immune system protects us against illnesses and diseases, it is important to keep it strong and healthy. Through sun exposure or by taking a vitamin D supplement, we can help maintain an adequate level of vitamin D in our systems. Your doctor can check vitamin D levels to make sure they are where they need to be.
According to the Mayo Clinic, “The link between vitamin D and MS is strengthened by the association between sunlight and the risk of MS. The farther away from the equator a person lives, the higher the risk of MS. Sunlight is the body’s most efficient source for vitamin D — suggesting that exposure to sunlight may offer protection from MS.”
This shows the importance of vitamin D in avoiding MS, but how does it help when we already have it? My neurologist suggested soon after my MS diagnosis in 2010 that I start taking 5,000 IU daily of the supplement vitamin D-3.
The Mayo Clinic also highlighted studies by the Maastricht University in the Netherlands and others that found that vitamin D may lessen the frequency and severity of MS symptoms for those who already have it. However, the clinic stressed that more research is needed.
From different sources online, I have found that the most common form of vitamin D recommended for MS patients is vitamin D-3. The reason is that vitamin D-3 is thought to be more natural and readily absorbed into the system. It also is animal-based and has omega-3, which also has been found to be beneficial to MS.
I have read comments from people who are uncertain if taking vitamin D-3 actually helps them. Some say they don’t feel any different, and that their symptoms seem to remain the same. For me, I do seem to have a higher energy level when I consistently take my vitamin D-3. Overall, my symptoms seem better as well. I just need to remember to take it regularly.
Whether or not we feel better taking vitamin D-3 shouldn’t be the question we ask ourselves before deciding to add it to our MS regimen. The question should about what we have to lose. By following our doctors’ dosage recommendations, taking vitamin D-3 could be an added protection against MS.
Please join us in the vitamin D discussion in the MS forums!
Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.