Multiple sclerosis is a serious illness. Almost everyone knows someone personally who has multiple sclerosis. Many remember Annette Funicello, the unfortunate case in which Annette has been wheelchair bound for many years.
Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease in which abnormal antibodies are produced that attack the central nervous system. It is believed that many factors contribute to these antibodies being produced – genetics, (although parent-child cases or cases in two siblings are very rare), dietary factors, and other factors have been researched with various degrees of proof.
In 1974 Dr. P. Goldman published a medical article in the International Journal of Environmental Studies which noted a very strong connection between higher rates of MS and distance from the equator. How this could affect the incidence of MS was not understood at the time, and it has taken over 3 decades for scientific discoveries to catch up and explain this connection.
Because of medical research done in the last decades, it is now known that vitamin D in the human can decrease or eliminate the production of abnormal antibodies produced when the human body turns on itself. Vitamin D is produced almost exclusively from the sun’s action on our skin. (Very little vitamin D is added to milk, and it’s present in some other foods such as fish, but there is not enough in food to supply the human body with the amount it needs.) Connecting the dots of this research done over 3 decades explains the sun connection. Distance from the equator is strongly correlated to the amount of vitamin D produced by humans.
There are over 350 studies of vitamin D and multiple sclerosis listed in MEDLINE. They approach the subject in dozens of various ways. Vitamin D levels are in general very low in patients with MS; higher levels in childhood and adulthood lead to a lower incidence of MS; vitamin D is shown to modify the harmful antibodies; and most importantly, giving vitamin D to MS sufferers shows improvements in the symptoms and objective positive changes in a high percentage of cases. One article summarizes the studies: “Vitamin D: a natural inhibitor of multiple sclerosis.” Another article asks: “Managing MS – are we forgetting something?” Another article finds evidence that vitamin D should be given prenatally to expectant mothers, and to infants, to prevent a variety of illnesses. One research study shows an improvement in 80% in MS patients with vitamin D. And finally a well respected neurological journal in 2010 has recommended that every MS patient get a 25-hydroxyvitamin D level, and deficiencies should be treated. Vitamin D is now mainstream medical treatment for MS.
There are a number of powerful medications used to treat MS with varying results, varying side effects, and they tend to be extremely expensive. Neurologists are the experts on these drugs. Vitamin D should be used as an additional treatment with virtually everyone with MS. It costs a few dollars a month, and at the doses involved, is free of side effects. All the treatments of MS strive to prevent further antibody damage; unfortunately nothing has been found that regenerates the nerve cells that have already been irreversibly damaged. So no one is claiming that wheelchair bound people could walk again, but further damage may be prevented.
I started off by saying that almost everyone knows someone with MS – a friend, or relative. If that is the case with you, tell them about these findings. I still come across people who suffer from MS, and in one case, die from it, without ever having had a vitamin D level drawn or without receiving vitamin D. This has got to stop!