Multiple sclerosis (MS) remains shrouded in mystery to most mainstream medical experts. Some say it’s a genetic disease. Others say a virus causes it. And I’ll never forget one particularly wacky theory I heard in medical school that claimed dogs gave MS to humans. (In fact, dogs are remarkable for being the only animals that do not pass any disease to humans.)
Thankfully, as I told you in a Daily Dispatch article earlier this year, some Swedish scientists are finally beginning to “see the light.” Quite literally. In fact, in a recent study, Sweden scientists uncovered a strong association between low vitamin D and MS.
In this study, researchers took blood samples from nearly 300,000 healthy men and women living in Northern Sweden. Then, they stored the samples in blood banks for more than 30 years.
Next, the researchers reexamined blood levels in men and women who subsequently developed multiple sclerosis. And they found a clear link between low vitamin D levels and MS. In fact, the higher the level of vitamin D at the study’s outset, the lower the risk of developing MS later in life. And the lower levels of vitamin D at the outset, the greater the MS risk.
It’s just amazing that doctors and researchers did not think to connect the dots for decades between low vitamin D and MS. Especially since we have known for a long time that MS is much more common at latitudes where the sun isn’t as strong. And especially given what we now know about low vitamin D and the development of so many other medical conditions.
Well, at last some in the mainstream are starting to take note of the new research.
In fact, vitamin D was the hot topic at last month’s 29th Congress of the European Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis in Copenhagen. At the meeting, the members discussed and debated the role of vitamin D in the prevention and treatment of MS.
Congress Chairman Giancarlo Comi, M.D. opened the session and said, “vitamin D is without doubt one of the environmental factors that plays an important role in the pathophysiology of MS, and it may also have a treatment role.”
George Ebers, M.D. from the University of Oxford agreed that vitamin D should play a role in prevention. He stated, “When looking at the risks, costs and benefits… the risks seem tiny and…..vitamin D is dirt cheap but the costs of MS are staggering.”
Dr. Ebers also believes we should look more closely at population and migrant studies to solidify the case for vitamin D. For example, when people move from the U.K. to Australia, they substantially reduce their MS risk. And within Australia itself, MS is six times more common among men and women who live in Tasmania (toward the South Pole) than in Queensland, which is close to the equator.
To some extent, fish consumption can make up for lack of sunshine in some populations. In northern Norway, for example, high fish consumption appears to offset the lack of sunlight. In fact, eating enough wild-caught, cold-water fish gives you healthy omega 3s in addition to vitamin D.
But clearly, not everyone eats fish three to four times a week. And not everyone spends 30 minutes every day in the sunlight.
So, Dr. Ebers and many other MS researchers now recommend mass supplementation in the population as a whole, since the risks are so low and benefits are so high, as I had already concluded and recommended. Dr. Ebers said, “the margin of safety is greater than that of water. There is absolutely no problem with taking up to 4000 IU/day.”
In fact, the Institute of Medicine now recommends that adult men and women supplement with up to 4000 IU of vitamin D per day as well.
And don’t worry if you already have optimal vitamin D levels. This amount won’t hurt you, as I explained in a previous Dispatch article. And for the vast majority of people who are below optimal levels, supplementing with 4000 IU of vitamin D will do a world of good.
In France, researchers are even using vitamin D to treat MS. One clinical trial is called “D-lay.” It’s an appropriate name, don’t you think, given how long it has taken the mainstream medical complex to recognize the obvious MS-vitamin D connection?
And remember, today is the first day of November. This month, the sun starts staying too low in the sky for the right rays of sunlight to penetrate the atmosphere and activate vitamin D in your skin. And if you live in a latitude north of Atlanta, Georgia, you are “in the dark” until March. So, make sure to take up to 4000 IU of vitamin D every day. Even if you don’t have MS.
1. “Vitamin D for all to prevent MS?” Medscape (www.medscape.com), October 3, 2013