Sunday, 23 December 2012

Vitamin D Supplements Recommended

Little Missed Sunshine

The night after I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, I sat up in my hospital bed for the entire night, feverishly scouring the depths of the internet on my phone for information on treatments, cures, remedies and therapies. Of course, being the internet, I found them in abundance, and I diligently wrote down notes so that I could question my neurologist when he did his rounds the following morning. Yes, he had told me that MS is an incurable disease, but surely if I just searched the internet hard enough, I would find something he had missed in all his years of medical training. When he arrived the following morning, I was ready and waiting, armed to the teeth with notes and scribblings on everything from dietary control regimens, curative creams, interventionist surgery and Shamanic Rituals. OK ... not the Shamanic Rituals, but you get an idea of where my mind was at during this time. 

It was a necessary but somewhat disheartening meeting. He patiently sat and listened to me as I worked through my night's research, ticking items as I went and making notes from his responses. Before long, the conversation had acquired quite a predictable pattern: 

Me:      So ... this one ... [I name some therapy that I've found on the internet].

Him:     Yes, I've read about that, but unfortunately the scientific evidence for its efficacy is very thin.

Occasionally, he wouldn't even be that generous toward a given therapy, and his answer would be that there's no scientific evidence or, worse still, a particular treatment is downright dangerous. I know some people will immediately assume that he was just rubbishing treatments that he wasn't familiar with, or hadn't been trained in, but this wasn't the case at all. With most, he was already familiar with them (rather than it being a complete unknown), he often had patients that were trying or had tried a particular treatment independently, and was often able to give specific reasons why the evidence for efficacy was poor ("in that study, the control group was very small" / "that's never been peer-reviewed" / "the initial results have never been replicated," etc, etc). 

However, one of my questions did yield a positive result. 

Me:       What about Vitamin D supplementation? 

Him:      Yes, there have been a number of studies that show beneficial results from boosting vitamin D levels in the body. 

Thus, having continued my research into the benefits of vitamin D, I've been taking a supplement daily ever since then. Has it helped? Obviously, I can't really be sure. I hope it has, of course, but it's completely hassle free, just one more small tablet in my daily assortment of tablets, and I didn't have to pay some nutter on the internet $50.00 to read a badly-written book about it.

Of all the vitamins that humans require, it would seem D is a trickier one than most to come by. It's often called 'the sunshine vitamin' due to the sun being the main source. However, if you live in the British Isles or Ireland, this poses a very obvious difficulty. Vitamin D is also found in certain foods, but it would seem that getting sufficient levels of it from your diet alone is difficult for most and not very practical. 

Interestingly, though, there have been a number of recent studies and news items espousing the benefits of a Vitamin D supplement generally, not just for those with specific medical conditions that seem to be helped by them. The British government recommends a vitamin D supplement to specific groups, namely: pregnant and breastfeeding women, children aged six months to five years, and people aged 65 and over. However, it also recommends such a supplement to these groups: 
  • People who are not exposed to much sun
  • People who cover up their skin for cultural reasons
  • People who are housebound
  • People who otherwise stay indoors for long periods of time
In fact, the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) says that perhaps 25% of UK children are vitamin D deficient, and a recent report by the BBC suggested that half of the UK's white population, and up to 90% of the black and Asian population, are similarly deficient.

This is of concern because a lack of vitamin D is linked to a number of diseases, including diabetes, tuberculosis, rickets (cases of which are on the rise in both Britain and Ireland) and ... you've guessed it ... multiple sclerosis!

Below, I've linked several articles that you might find interesting on the subject of Vitamin D.

If you'd like to do some research into Vitamin D and whether or not you think it would be of benefit to you, these articles are a good place to start. It was recommend to me that I should try and get out in the sunshine when I can (with due concern given to not damaging my skin) and also to take a supplement. Naturally, your GP would be the best person to similarly advise you.

Some D-licious foods
(it would seem taking a supplement does nothing for your joke writing skills)


  1. I think if people are going to benefit from Vitamin D they need to understand first that NATURALLY humans living as human DNA evolved in East Africa have a mean serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentration of 115 nmol/l. and these levels RISE as people age and when they are pregnant/breastfeeding.
    Average UK 25(OH)D levels are 25nmol/l at end of winter and at most 75nmol/l end of summer (probably not after this summer)So we are ALL well below the natural levels human DNA works best with.
    City Assays Vitamin D Blood Spot Test Birmingham NHS path lab do postal vit D testing for £25 or £20 if you bulk buy.
    It takes 3~5 months to reach a plateux so start by taking 1000iu/daily Vitamin D3 for each 25lbs you weigh at the moment.
    Bigger bodies need more than skinny bodies.
    After you get your test results back reduce intake by 1000iu/d for each 25nmol/l you may be above 150nmol/l or increase by 1000 iu for each 25nmol/l below 125nmol/l. retest again every 6 months to keep at or above 125nmol/l
    The reason to stay above that target level (apart fromthe fact it's the point of natural vit d equilibrium) is that MS is an INFLAMMATORY condition and at 125nmol/l vitamin D3 is at it's most efficient at resolving inflammation.
    MS folks with higher Vit d levels have fewer flares and lower levels of disability.
    Amazon UK have 5000iu vit d drops at less than £10 for years supply. Morning with food is best.
    It's also worth pointing out "The Vitamin D Council" and "Grassrootshealth" are US charities informing people about Vitamin D3.
    We also need to know the 3 major forms of vitamin D in the body are Vitamin D3 (made under the surface of skin by action of UVB on 7 Dehydrocholesterol) Calcidiol (made out of Vit D3 and which circulates through the body in plasma Hlaf life about 28 days) and Calcitriol( the active hormonal form.(half life measured in hours)
    The switching from one form to another requires presence of MAGNESIUM, most people don't get the current RDA for magnesium so will improve the action of Vit d if they get slightly more magnesium daily than the current RDA.
    The Omega 3 fatty acid (from fish/fish oil) DHA also helps resolve inflammation and DOUBLES as a Vitamin D receptor ligand (acts like substitute for vit d as does curcumin from the turmeric spice) So if you want Vit d receptors to work efficiently with Vitamin D it's important to use both magnesium and omega 3 (high DHA) as well.

  2. Thank you for your reply Ted. When making enquiries and doing research, there seemed to be no common agreement on the exact dosage of vitamin D that is most beneficial, but everyone agreed that vitamin D *is* beneficial, and specifically for those with MS. It definitely seems worth looking into for those that haven't already explored it : o )

  3. Thanks Ed,

    Will be educating myself with this blog.

    -Clueless in Seattle