Almost two years ago my multiple sclerosis nurse, at one of my six-month check-ups, suggested that taking a vitamin D supplement might be a good idea, even though my vitamin levels had not been measured. He said it was not proven to help people with MS, but it couldn’t hurt.
Well, that last part wasn’t true then and remains untrue today. Looking into it, I found that too much vitamin D can have nasty side effects in terms of kidney damage (by calcium). And, as he correctly said, the advantages are still unproven.
However, analysis of the geographic prevalence of MS does point to the fact there is less risk of developing it the closer you live to the equator. That equals more sunshine and so more naturally-occurring vitamin D.
I never did take that nurse´s advice and thought the whole vitamin D issue would take care of itself after moving last year to live in the sun. However, despite an all-year suntan, I now know my vitamin D level is too low.
Vitamin D deficient
While the various national MS Societies seem reluctant to give their full endorsement, the Vitamin D Council is not so reticent. On its website, it says: “Those with higher vitamin D levels are less likely to develop MS. In addition, higher vitamin D levels predict reduced MS activity and a slower rate of progression. Higher vitamin D levels are also associated with lower degree of disability for those with MS,” it states.
Regular readers will remember that a month ago I visited the Hematology and Stem Cell Therapy (HSCT) center in Moscow to undergo tests to see if that treatment was suitable for me. One thing they tested for was — surprise! — my vitamin levels. And, surprise again, my vitamin D is not just low, it’s classified as “deficient.”
When explaining all Moscow’s findings, Dr. Fedorenko advised that I should begin taking vitamin D supplement and, this time, I have heeded the advice and now take 4000 IU (international units) daily.
Will it make any difference? Only time will tell, but already, there some changes are being noticed. No falls for over a week as my weak left knee has not given way. I can stand up from my armchair and walk to the bathroom without using furniture or walls for support. This, for me, is major progress.
Is it the vitamin D? Will it continue? We’ll just have to wait and see.
50shadesofsun.com is the personal website of Ian Franks, who is Managing Editor (columns division) of BioNews Services. BioNews is owner of 50 disease/didorder-specific news and information websites – including MS News Today. Ian has enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, from reporter to editor, in the print media. During that career he gained a Journalist of the Year award in his native UK. He was diagnosed with MS in 2002 but continued working until mobility problems forced him to retire early in late 2006. He now lives in the south of Spain. Besides MS, Ian is also able to write about both epilepsy and cardiovascular matters from a patient’s perspective and is a keen advocate on mobility and accessibility issues.