Hi Deb -
I just bumped up a discussion for you....
Unfortunately, Elaine, who is very versed in Vitamins is not around so much anymore. Maybe she will pop in. I sure miss her.
I am undiagnosed - but just recently discovered that I am also Vitamin D deficient.
There is evidence that people who have low Vit. D have a higher chance of developing MS. How this applies to other autoimmune disorders - I don't know.
My Vitamin D was at 18 - according to my doctor (and I have heard differing opinions on what is "normal") the normal range should be around 60 to 80. Anything below 31 is considered a deficiency and over 100 is toxic.
I am currently taking 2000 i.u.(plus 400 from my daily vitamin) and in 1 month I went from 18 to 27. So progress can be made. You also need to make sure that you are getting the proper amount of calcium - because they need each other for absorption.
I am sure others will post more info.
I have this article from the National MS Society. I will paste the parts that have not already been covered for you here in the forum.
The new story: immune effects
Vitamin D has effects on the immune
system that could be beneficial for people
with MS. In studies of immune cells,
vitamin D shows anti-inflammatoryeffects.
In an animal model of MS,
vitamin D supplementation reduced
disease severity and vitamin D deficiency
worsened it. Additionally, a large,
ten-year study found that women who
took vitamin D supplements were 40%
less likely to develop MS. However,
since this was not a placebo-controlled
study, the decrease in MS risk may have
involved many other factors.
Many little studies
A small MRI study suggests that MS activity
increases during winter. A two-year
study of ten people who took cod liver oil
(which contains vitamin D and omega-3
fatty acids) noted a lower exacerbation
rate during treatment compared to the
rate before treatment. A one-year study of
15 people with MS to test the safety of a
form of vitamin D called calcitriol found
participants having fewer exacerbations
during the study than before it began,
although the study was not designed to
test this outcome.
However, a preliminary report on a
short-term study of 11 people with MS
treated with 19-nor, another form of vitamin
D, did not produce significant benefits
based on clinical tests or MRI.
These small studies hint at the possible
potential of vitamin D, but they are too
limited to provide compelling scientific
evidence of benefit. Currently, there are
well-designed long-term trials in progress
that may clarify the role of vitamin D in
MS within a few years.
What to do while we wait
Green light: It is clear that vitamin D and
calcium supplements can increase bone
density and may possibly decrease the risk
of fractures. This is particularly important
for people with MS, who often have an
increased risk of bone thinning. Vitamin
D is safe at reasonable doses and is relatively
inexpensive. The FDA approves of
200 IU for 19–50 year olds and 400 IU
for people over 50. Doses higher than
2000 IU a day are considered risky. (I noticed one lady said she was taking 4000IU Dr recommended. That may be ok for her, but be sure to talk with ur doc)
Red light: Vitamin D supplements
should be avoided or taken with close
physician supervision by people with kidney
disease, hypercalcemia, sarcoidosis,
or hypoparathyroidism. Vitamin D may
interfere with “cardiac glycosides” medications
(digitoxin or digoxin, for example).
There is a small increase in the risk of kidney
stones. Other factors, including diet,
medical history, and possible side effects
should be balanced against the limitedevidence
of benefit. All these issues
should be discussed with a physician or
health care professional.
For a complete list of 11 published
studies supporting this article, go to
I hope this helps. I have not had time to get to the website to read the other 11 studies.
Many researchers think there is causal link between low Vitamin D and MS. Though nothing has been proven, it's a hot topic right now. These researchers have shown that vitamin D (which really isn't a vitamin, but a hormone with steroid-like effects) has important effects on the immune system. Some researchers, such as Cantorna, have given vitamin D and calcium to mice with the experimental model of MS, EAE, and limited the disease progression. They were also able to block the disease from developing by giving healthy mice vitamin D.
The current recommended minimum level of 25(OH) D3 for good health is 32 ng/ml (80 nmol/L). Since this is a minimum, I would imagine those with MS would want to be significantly higher than this. A level of 9 is extremely low. I've read that others with such a low level were prescribed mega-doses for a short time (like 50,000 IU's a week), then tapered down to a maintenance dose. If you take supplements make sure it is D3 or cholecalciferol.
The reason vitamin D is being studied in terms of MS, and vice versa, is that data show that greater distance from the equator, hence less sun exposure, seems to be a factor in MS, and of course sun is our main source of D. The further from the equator, the more cases (with the odd exception of Eskimos). MS is not evenly distributed.
However, this finding holds true only for distance from equator during the first 15 years of life. If the location of birth is different from location of childhood, an individual's likelihood of developing MS becomes that of the new location, and not the birthplace. This fact implies that vitamin D taken later than childhood cannot help prevent MS. But the whole situation gets very complicated, as clearly a great many factors come into play regarding MS. It's not helpful to draw conclusions based on D, location, ethnicity or any other one factor alone.
Whether D is useful once MS has set in is not yet known. That's where the big surge of research is centered, and it will be interesting to see what happens.
When last my D level was checked, the reference range was shown as 15 to 60. Mine was at 34. Within the last year or two, medical science has decided that 15 is way too low, so often the bottom 'normal' level is now listed as 30. How high D can get without causing problems doesn't seem to be clear yet. I do hope that Elaine, our expert on this, will check in here, but from posts she's made, I understand that a D level in the 50s might be optimal.
My multivitamin contains 400 IUs of D, which is listed as the recommended daily amount. although many scientists dispute this. I take an additional 1000 units, with an okay from my PCP. Next time I have blood work I will ask for a re-check. As far as can be determined at this point, this much additional D at least will do no harm. And has been mentioned, it is quite inexpensive. I'm careful about calcium too, since I've had osteopenia for about 10 years. But it hasn't gotten worse. (Also have been continuously on meds for this.)
My apologies to those members of the forum to whom this info is old hat. But we have lots of newbies who may not yet have read up on these issues.
Not to worry about repeating important information, as you 've just posted, along with our other Forum members. Great information girls. This Vitamin D problem is not talked about enough. As is said by the others, taking extra Vitamin D should not be done alone without calcium. Vit D cannot be absorbed without the help calcium. Extra calcium has it's own risk so I suggest as below:
All of this extra vit D and calcium should be done under a doctor's supervision, so he can keep a check on your levels. It needs to be determined that you are indeed LOW in Vitamin D, before you start taking supplements. Very important.
Thanks to all of you, for bringing up with discussion again. It's always worth reading, even for us "old" MSers. Like me....
One of my doctors saw that I was being evaluated for MS , brought up Vit D3 with me and ordered the blood test. He wasn't even the neurologist! But he thinks Vit D3 deficiency research will win someone a Nobel Prize in medicine someday. And when I checked for peer-reviewed literature, it does look like a miracle treatment -- low cost, low toxicity -- for many vexing conditions including chronic pain, MS, and psoriasis.
I haven't seen any info that says Vit D cannot be absorbed without the help of calcium. I have seen it the other way around. Vitamin D is required for the body to use calcium.
But my doctor, and various sources in print and on the web, have noted that a small serving of fat is required for the body to use Vit D. For me, that's a handful of nuts or flax seed meal along with the goodies in my oatmeal.
Three sources that are backed up with scientific references but that wade through the details for you:
and my vitamin Bible: The Nutrition Desk Reference. Robert Garrison and Elizabeth Somer. New Canaan, CT: Keats Publishing. Mine's 1995; I should check for a new edition.