Vitamin D protects against MS


MS is a dreaded disease that often affects young people and may cause severe lifelong disabilities. For some reason the immune system attacks the nervous system damaging it. There is no cure, only drugs that, at best, may slow disease progression. There is a great need for something else to use in the battle against MS.

Last fall two Swedish scientists warned that people with vitamin D deficiency were more frequently affected by MS. A previous study has also shown that people with MS who were randomized to receive vitamin D supplements became healthier than the control group [1  2]. This isn’t too surprising as vitamin D affects the function of the immune system, and vitamin D deficiency is common.

One more study now shows that vitamin D supplementation may slow or prevent disease progression in cases of suspected MS, that were detected early. In this study vitamin D doses of 50 000 IU weekly were used, i.e. approximately 7 000 IU daily. More about the study:

Vitamin D Council: New randomized controlled trial says, Vitamin D prevents and delays multiple sclerosis.

Even more studies on MS and vitamin D are currently under way, but this already looks very promising. Presently, it makes sense for anyone suffering from MS to supplement with vitamin D. It is safe, so the potential gains (fewer lifelong disabilities) are gigantic in comparison to the cost.

Do you know anyone who should know about this?

More on vitamin D

PS: How much vitamin D should you take if you have MS? My general recommendation is 2 000 – 5 000 IU daily depending on body weight. The two studies that have shown a positive effect on MS used doses of 3 000 and 7 000 IU daily, respectively. Thus, my recommendation for MS patients is 5 000 IU daily. If you’re taking significantly higher doses than this over a long period of time, you should check your blood levels of vitamin D. 


  1. chuck
    There is a real possibility that Vit D is just a marker for sun exposure and that actual sun exposure has a vastly different effect than Vit D pills.

    I use both

  2. Nads
    I bet it gets down to something to do with gut flora health ie vitamin D keeps gut flora healthier, as does good food. Look up the works of Dr Tom Borody in Australia. He found that with his Fecal Transplants to cure people of their bowel infections they were also being vastly improved with their symptoms of MS or Parkinsons if they had that too.
  3. Marcy
    We have a high incidence of MS here in Colorado compared to the general population. We have over 300 days of sun, and in Denver at a mile high, we are closer to the sun than those at sea level--so I don't get the sun/vitamin D/ MS correlation. I did read it had something to do with latitude as well, something about being above the 38th or 40th parallel.
    Reply: #4
  4. nostent4me
    I visisted some friends living just west of Denver, up in the hills there another 1/4 mile up last year.
    From the hills one could see the Denver, often in haze and smog, or in Denver’s "Brown Cloud" as it was known. Apparently it has improved in the last few years but UVB does not penetrate air pollution very well. How well ?

    Did you read about Manchester United's Alex Ferguson that installed special UVB boots for his players for a few sessions each week to promote players general health etc.?.
    Before that he staggered players to Canaries over the winter season!
    The Soviet icehockey team apparently did the same decades ago!

  5. Marcy
    nostent4me, thanks for the interesting theory. I know we do have a lot of haze and pollution that settles down into Denver, but we have way more clear and sunny days than smoggy ones!
    Reply: #8
  6. FrankG
    @Marcy -- yes latitude has a great deal more to do with the amount of solar radiation getting through, than height above sea level.Think about how it is consistently (all year) hot around the equator and how much snow you get in Colorado :-)

    The Earth is not perfectly spherical, its axis is tilted and its elliptical orbit keeps us on an annual pilgrimage, which is not always a constant distance from the Sun.

    This is why we have seasons and why we have different temperature zones (based on latitude) around the planet. Hot around the Equator, icy at the poles.

    Because of the tilt, the Sun has to penetrate (at an angle) more of the atmosphere in Northern and Southern latitudes. Less solar radiation means less heat... especially in our respective winters.

    Interestingly there is a theory that an early planet-sized impact resulted in Earth's tilt, the Moon, and our iron core which gives us a magnetic shield to protect our atmosphere. The Moon and Earth's gravitational pull on each other leads to a fairly stable orbit for both of us; as well as the tides. All of which arguably, resulted in the conditions needed to foster life as we know it today.

  7. While I agree that 5000iu/daily is probably a sensible place to start we do have to understand not all vitamin D3 supplements are reliably equal and our own personal response to vitamin D3 varies by as much as 100ng/ml or 250nmol/l to any specific daily intake regime.
    This chart from Grassrootshealth shows the extent of that variation by daily intake.

    CityAssays Postal Vitamin D blood spot testing service It's a department of Birmingham NSH path lab.
    Please consider buying the discounted 10 test pack and sharing with family, friends, colleagues, online buddies
    For 90p large letter rate you could send a pack anywhere in UK.

    There is also a variation depending on how low your 25(OH)D is when you start supplementing.
    In this series of charts Grassrootshealth have tried to show the typical amounts required to move from one 25(OH)D level to a more optimal level.

    I think the same applies to MS as to any other inflammatory condition and that is we all need to be aware that 125nmol/l 50ng/ml is the NATURAL level for humans living as human DNA evolved.
    Not only is human milk vitamin D replete but also Vitamin D3 at that level is MOST effective as an anti-inflammatory agent

    I think it's also important to point out the Hypomagnesemia (MAGNESIUM deficiency) prevents Vitamin D operating at all.
    It won't, can't switch to the active hormonal form, and because of the changes made by plant breeding, fertilisers, farming etc many of the foods we consume have less magnesium than previous generations would have obtained from those same food items. Most of us don't get the daily RDA for magnesium.
    We would all benefit from using effective strength/forms of magnesium, particularly when supplementing with Vitamin D3, to counterbalance the extra calcium we will be absorbing when 25(OH)D rises.

    We also know supplementing with omega 3 (fish oil or algal or other marine omega 3 increases the amount of 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D (calcitriol, active vitamin D3 form) available.

    If we want people to actually benefit from increasing 25(OH)D levels then it's important not only that 25(OH)D level increase but they have to ability to convert that vitamin D3 to it's active hormonal form as and when required.

  8. nostent4me
    I live in Ireland right now and last 5 years winters ( typically September to April.. over here ) I have indulged in 5,000 I.U. Vitamin D daily, or at least 5 days per week on average. No flu and colds lasting more than 30 minutes since this regimen started. On a 2 week holdays in Canaris in the winter we were surprised to have no need for any sunscreen. It seemed the D we had taken before protected in a deeper fashion ???
    Another thing is that one gets easily sun tanned inside a car or behind a large window, but the glass quenches all the UVB, so no vitamin D goes with such a tan anywhere.
    Good Luck!
  9. A few more ideas here to help improve natural sunscreen potential.
    Natural Sunscreen Options - Healthy Fellow
    Eat Your Sunscreen? - Wellness Mama
    Do remember it takes a while to change every cell on your skin so please allow 12~20 weeks using the above strategies before sunbathing and do make sure you never get sunburnt.

    Interesting TedTalk here Why are Scots so sick: Dr. Richard Weller at TEDxGlasgow pointing to some of the potential other benefits of sun exposure in addition to vitamin D production.
    Don't forget bright light exposure during the day resets circadian rhythm and enhances evening/night time melatonin production. Melatonin has a similar pleiotropic range of actions as Vitamin D3, so also benefits just about every system in the body.

  10. FrankG
    Another note regarding latitude and sunscreen: is the natural "sunscreen" inherent in a darker pigmented skin... the need for vitamin D production is the prevailing theory as to why humans adapted with lighter skin as we moved away from our equatorial roots.

    There is of course a balance to be achieved between the damage caused by too much solar radiation as compared with too little.

    Reply: #11
  11. nostent4me
    In Scotland calls for public action to correct the huge Vitamin D deficiency:

    Here is a great sunshine summary:

    Reply: #12
  12. But while it's good that Prof George Ebers is calling for vitamin D and Vitamin D food fortification I've not seen any indication he is aware of the natural 25(OH)D level of homoeostasis humans, living as human DNA evolved, normally attain and maintain given regular near full body UVB exposure.
    We know when they used 2000iu/daily vitamin D supplementation in Finland for babies during their first year of life not only was there no adverse effects but the incidence of Type 1 diabetes over the next 30 years was reduced 80%. If 2000 iu daily is the appropriate protective amount for a new born baby it's hardly likely to be sufficient for a full grown adult body and nor will the piffling amounts that are likely to be used for food fortification.
    His new paper with "et all" The Role of Vitamin D in Nervous System Health and Disease is worth reading It includes sections on MS and also schizophrenia, autism, Parkinson’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease. Email me if you want more details.

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