Vitamin D could be extraordinarily helpful in the therapy of multiple sclerosis (MS) – as various studies have now shown. Although vitamin D preparations help to raise the vitamin D level in a targeted manner, a regular dose of sunlight can often stimulate the body’s own vitamin D production in such a way that the symptoms of multiple sclerosis can be alleviated. Of course, the administration of vitamin D alone is not a panacea for MS, but vitamin D should definitely be part of the holistic therapy concept for multiple sclerosis.
MS multiple sclerosis – symptoms and course of the disease
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a devastating disease with little hope for a real cure. In Germany, around 150 out of 100,000 people suffer from multiple sclerosis. It mostly affects young people between the ages of 20 and 40 who are in the prime of life. The illness renders them unable to take care of themselves and eventually places some in wheelchairs.
Multiple sclerosis is a chronic inflammatory autoimmune disease that affects the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord, and occasionally the optic nerves). As the disease progresses, the outer layer of the spinal cord slowly hardens. As a result, the electrical impulses of the nerve cells (which travel from the brain to the rest of the body and vice versa) can no longer pass through, they are interrupted.
Various symptoms occur, such as sensory disturbances, paralysis, pain, swallowing problems, and visual disturbances (veils in front of the eyes, double vision, etc.). Over time, the strength decreases noticeably and movements become slower until they are finally no longer possible. However, people with MS do not necessarily end up in a wheelchair. The majority are still able to walk on their own years after the onset of the disease.
MS also progresses in phases in most cases, which means that the symptoms can completely disappear after a phase (until the next phase). However, neurological damage can also remain permanently and worsen from one episode to the next.
Multiple sclerosis – hitherto dubious forms of treatment
The conventional medical treatment of multiple sclerosis does not lead to a cure, but – with a lot of luck – to an alleviation of the symptoms. During an attack, high-dose cortisone preparations and possibly drugs that inhibit cell growth and cell division are administered (cytostatics that are also administered to cancer patients under the name chemotherapy).
In addition, medication is prescribed to treat the individual symptoms (medication for depression, medication for pain, etc.). In the long term, attempts are being made to change the immune system with certain drugs on the one hand, but also to suppress it on the other. It is known that convincing evidence of effectiveness cannot be provided for all drugs used in multiple sclerosis.
A person may not take some of these drugs for more than two to five years in their entire life, because otherwise life-threatening conditions must be expected. Other typical MS drugs (beta-interferon) are said to increase the risk of cancer and still, others can cause inflammation in the brain.
Beta interferon is also said to lead to depression, which is why antidepressants are then quickly prescribed. As a rule, these in turn have a long list of side effects, but of course, there are also drugs against them…
Vitamin D prevents MS flare-ups
The therapeutic situation for those affected by multiple sclerosis is anything but satisfactory. A study by the University of Toronto on the influence of vitamin D on the course and development of multiple sclerosis gives every reason for hope.
Multiple sclerosis patients who had taken high doses of vitamin D during this study (average 14,000 IU per day, 1 IU – international unit – corresponds to 0.025 micrograms for vitamin D3) were able to successfully prevent new flare-ups. In addition, their bodily functions did not deteriorate any further and they did not notice any negative side effects.
Researchers warn against effective vitamin D doses
Despite these extremely positive results, people with MS are warned against taking more than 4,000 IU of vitamin D, as therapy with higher doses is not yet considered safe. At the same time, however, this same study showed that taking a dose of just 4,000 IU per day had absolutely no effect on multiple sclerosis.
In addition, it has already been proven in several studies that high doses of vitamin D are quite safe. Yes, it was even the University of Toronto itself that announced in a vitamin D study that there was “no evidence of negative effects from taking 10,000 IU of vitamin D per day”. In general, chronic overdose can only occur if you take 40,000 IU or more in supplement form over many months.
Sunbathing ensures vitamin D supply in MS
When exposed to UVB radiation, the body can produce vitamin D itself. If you have light skin and stay in the sun until your skin turns a little pink, that corresponds to around 20,000 IU of vitamin D. Our own body, therefore, produces an incredibly large amount of vitamin D within a very short time – but only in the summer months. In winter, the UVB radiation in central and northern Europe is not sufficient to remedy a vitamin D deficiency.
Equally interesting is the fact that multiple sclerosis occurs less frequently the closer a person lives to the equator. From this, some scientists conclude that multiple sclerosis could be the result of a chronic vitamin D deficiency, among other things, simply because people from northern climes expose their skin to sunlight much less often and their bodies can therefore hardly produce vitamin D.
At the same time, the diet in northern industrialized countries is extremely low in vitamin D these days. The Inuit (Eskimos) in Greenland, for example, enjoy optimal vitamin D levels despite a chronic lack of sunlight because they eat freshly caught or home-dried fish and offal every day.
The protective effect of vitamin D in MS
Vitamin D influences over 1000 genes in the human organism. Studies have shown time and time again that a lack of vitamin D plays a key role in the development of many diseases. These include rickets, high blood pressure, stroke, heart attack, diabetes, broken bones, various types of cancer – and multiple sclerosis. This means that an optimal supply of vitamin D is indispensable for the prevention of these diseases.
The higher the vitamin D level in the blood, the lower the risk of MS
As early as 2006, a study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA 2006; 296: 2832-2838) that made the connection between vitamin D levels in the blood and MS clear.
dr Kassandra Munger from the Harvard School of Public Health and her team selected 257 multiple sclerosis patients from a database of seven million people, from whom at least two blood samples were available that had been taken about five years before the onset of the disease.
The vitamin D level of these blood samples was compared to the vitamin D level of a healthy control group. It turned out that the risk of developing MS (in white people) decreased as vitamin D levels increased.
MS: Vitamin D reduces the number of demyelination foci
Another study showed that taking around 7,000 IU of vitamin D per day reduced the number of so-called demyelinating foci (hardened areas) in the spinal cord in people with MS. And so many researchers – mainly in Scotland, where multiple sclerosis is particularly common – have been pushing for years to secure people’s vitamin D supply in order to be able to ward off MS in advance.
So, while the pharmaceutical industry scrambles to find new drugs to treat multiple sclerosis, the UK is urging its Prime Minister to devote millions of pounds to stem cell research that will one day help fight multiple sclerosis, while the Multiple Sclerosis Society in Canada is expanding its training centers set up for multiple sclerosis researchers, you could sit in the sun with as little clothing as possible, increase your vitamin D levels there completely free of charge and in this way become immune to multiple sclerosis.