The Multiple Sclerosis Trust announced that the Vitamin D working group, part of the U.K. Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN), has published a 300-page, comprehensive report now recommending that anyone age 4 and older take 10 μg (400 IU) of vitamin D each day to ensure musculoskeletal health. The review, “Vitamin D and Health,” was conducted to assess whether the U.K. dietary recommendations, set in 1991, were still appropriate.
People with multiple sclerosis (MS) are not advised to take higher doses to treat the disease because of conflicting evidence regarding vitamin D supplements, the group said in a press release.
According to some neurologists, high doses of vitamin D supplements may be beneficial for MS patients. These neurologists recommend that patients and their family members take around 100-124 μg (4000-5000 IU) of vitamin D every day (about 10 times the daily recommended dose for the general population), but others do not agree.
Research has shown that low levels of vitamin D are associated with the risk of developing MS, disease relapses, and increased disability. However, no causal role of vitamin D in reducing the risk or severity of MS has been seen. In fact, research studies to date have failed to produce any evidence showing that vitamin D supplements reduce the risk of developing MS or the severity of the condition. Most of these were observational studies and not randomized controlled trials, and produced inconsistent data between MS and vitamin D. Larger studies are ongoing to further investigate the potential benefits of vitamin D in MS. The MS Trust has a factsheet on vitamin D available for patients and others to download.
Vitamin D is essential to maintain muscle and bone health. Vitamin D is present in fish, eggs and fortified cereals, although in limited amounts, not enough to provide all the vitamin D that the body needs. Most of the vitamin D required for healthy muscles and bones is synthesized through sunlight on the skin.
According to Public Health England, most people get enough vitamin D through sunlight on their skin in the spring and summer seasons. During fall and winter, the agency — based on the working group’s findings — also recommends that people take 10 μg vitamin D supplements, and that they eat a healthy, balanced diet throughout the year.