Taking Vitamin D for Your MS? Use It Wisely

Taking Vitamin D for Your MS? Use It Wisely

Many people with multiple sclerosis (MS) use vitamin D supplements. I’ve been popping a 2,000 IU tablet of vitamin D3 each morning for many years. And with good reason.

Studies show that having an adequate blood level of vitamin D may lower a person’s risk of developing MS. Research also indicates the nutrient may be beneficial for people who already have MS by reducing the severity of symptoms and lengthening the time that it takes to move from relapsing to progressive MS. But, without monitoring the vitamin’s use, it can be harmful.

Vitamin D overdose

The Irish Medical Journal reported about a man with MS and the story demonstrated the risks associated with overconsumption of vitamin D. The man, who was 45 years old and restricted to a wheelchair because of his MS, had been vomiting, constipated, and lethargic for over a week. In the emergency room, blood tests revealed that he had severe hypercalcemia — in layman’s terms, too much calcium — as well as an acute kidney injury.

A small study in 2016 found that a daily dose of vitamin D3 as high as 10,400 IU was safe. However, the duration of the pilot study was only six months. The man in the above case had been taking roughly that amount of the vitamin — but for almost two years. He told doctors he hadn’t seen a neurologist in seven years.

How much vitamin D is too much?

A neurologist responding to a patient’s question on the Mayo Clinic’s website stated that The Institute of Medicine (now the National Academy of Medicine) recommends 600 IU a day for adults up to age 70 and 800 IU a day for those 71 and older — no more than 4,000 IU a day.

If someone is diagnosed with a vitamin D deficiency, a weekly dose of 50,000 IU for up to three months is recommended until levels normalize. Afterward, a maintenance dose of between 2,000 and 5,000 IU a day is advised.

Talk it over with your neuro

The Irish Medical Journal article reports, “There is increasing evidence to support a beneficial effect of vitamin D on the inflammatory component of MS, and correction of vitamin D insufficiency in MS patients is recommended.” But problems arise due to the wide availability of vitamin supplements. Walk into any pharmacy and you will see vitamin D products of varying strengths sitting on the shelves.

In her presentation at ACTRIMS Forum 2017, neurologist Ellen Mowry of Johns Hopkins MS Center in Baltimore said, “I tell my patients that Vitamin D is also a medication and even though it is available over the counter you still need to be followed by the doctor.” She suggested a daily dose of 5,000 IU for the “average” person with MS.

The bottom line is that a lot of evidence exists showing that vitamin D, whether derived naturally from sunlight or artificially in a tablet, can be beneficial to someone with MS. But don’t use it like the guy in Ireland did. If you’re considering a vitamin D supplement or you’re already taking one, talk it over with your physician.

I’m interested in hearing about your vitamin D experiences. Please share in the comments below.

You’re invited to visit my personal blog at www.themswire.com.

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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.

Ed Tobias is a retired broadcast journalist. Most of his 40+ year career was spent as a manager with the Associated Press in Washington, DC. Tobias was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 1980 but he continued to work, full-time, meeting interesting people and traveling to interesting places, until retiring at the end of 2012.
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Ed Tobias is a retired broadcast journalist. Most of his 40+ year career was spent as a manager with the Associated Press in Washington, DC. Tobias was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 1980 but he continued to work, full-time, meeting interesting people and traveling to interesting places, until retiring at the end of 2012.

10 comments

  1. Ian Sayce says:

    I take 4000 IU of SOLGAR D3 daily and have felt no ill effects for doing so. Upon looking into the label..It reads that it carries 100 micrograms. I’m not sure which value to believe.

  2. W says:

    I was a bit deficient in vitamin D. The last time I had blood labs, the D levels were a little high. The nurse had me drop the dosage to bring things down, but the levels weren’t a major concern. I was thankful that I had the blood-work done, though, as I felt no difference between the lower and higher levels.

  3. Glenn says:

    I take 10,000IU a day and can just keep my bloods in the mid point of the range. Neither my Neuro or my GP can explain why such a high dose doesn’t have an impact on me.

  4. Caroline says:

    I was told to take up to 60,000 IU when I was diagnosed – thought this was crazy!! I got sooo sick, and went down to 25000 IU and now I take around 4000 IU. I wish I could take a Vitamin D blood test to check my levels, but here in Vancouver they doctors don’t check!

  5. Tim Carter says:

    I give my wife 2,000 IU daily vit D3. This has been my own choice after doing a little research. Her neurologist has not even made any attempt to measure her vit D levels. We hope to see some other doctors soon. If I was a neurologist I would probably make vit D measurements of ms patients standard. This article does not mention how other minerals/supplements can effect vit D absorbtion (vit K comes to mind). May want to mention that next time. Thx

  6. Peter says:

    Why do we never seem to hear any comment re the vitamin D protocol of Professor Coimbra of San Paulo University, Brazil?

    It appears to CURE. Germany has sent 6 GPs to be trained by him and his team.

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