I submitted this article to UK MS magazine 'New Pathways' and it was edited and printed in the latest edition.
It should give pwMS a basic guide to Vitamin D3.
============================================================Take vitamin D3 and forget about vitamin D2!
“Spend a few pence per day on getting your vitamin D levels high.”
Says pharmaceutical consultant Mark Walker.
Mark Walker, 54, experienced his first MS symptoms in 1991. He lives near Oxford with his wife Natasha Austin.
With vitamin D, it’s important to get both the formulation and the level right. In the ‘Bring Me Sunshine’ article in the last issue, (83: Jan/Feb 2014, pages 24 & 25) the photo showed white tablets – this is the wrong formulation! Vitamin D is an oil-soluble vitamin which needs to be dissolved before you can absorb it. The easiest formulation to take is a soft gelatine capsule. The gelatine outside layer encloses oil, usually olive oil. Vitamin D3 is dissolved in the oil; a neat, small but measured dose.
The article also states that vitamin D3 is “more bio-available and effective” than D2. I discourage everyone from taking vitamin D2. People with MS who take D2 are probably wasting their money. The reason is that your body has to convert vitamin D2 to vitamin D3 - the active form - and people with MS may not do this.
Vitamin D3 in capsules is extracted from natural sources such as sheep lanolin, fish body oil and krill oil. However, be careful if using cod liver oil as your source of vitamin D as it also contains vitamin A, which is toxic at high levels. You can also get vitamin D from eating lots of oily fish.
Getting Vitamin D3 from sunshine is best - short bursts of sunbathing without any sunburn is ideal. Living in the UK this is not usually possible which is why you need to take D3 supplements. Optimum Levels Of vitamin D3
The same article in the last issue also stated: “An optimum level is 75nmol/L (nanomols per litre) or more” for 25–hydroxyvitamin D levels. My target range level of D3 in blood for someone with MS is 150-200 nmol/L
. It’s a no-brainer, economically. If it’s the only thing you do, spend a few pence a day on getting your vitamin D levels into this range.
The NHS figures for the general population have little basis in science. Most importantly they are dangerously low for someone with MS.
NHS Figures for Vitamin D status:
Less than 15 nmol/L Severe deficiency
15 -30 Deficiency
30.1 -50 Insufficiency
Greater than 50 Adequate
Total vitamin D levels above 220 nmol/L are considered ‘High’ and increase the risk of vitamin D toxicity.
Source: Department of Clinical Biochemistry, City Hospital, Birmingham. Sandwell & West Birmingham Hospitals NHS TrustResearch – High Vitamin D3 Means fewer relapses
A small study found that high levels of Vitamin D3 meant fewer relapses, also beneficial effects which increase up to 115nmol/L. Larger studies are underway.
In suggesting a target level blood level for vitamin D3 for people with MS, I have used lots of research data and considered history. I started by thinking about human evolution! Humans evolved spending most of their time in daylight, foraging for food. Vitamin D3 is manufactured quickly in sunshine by bare skin and stored in the body’s fat until it is required. A feedback mechanism exists so we humans do not over produce D3 in sunny climates. This situation continued until the Industrial Revolution, which changed everything and we moved inside. Unfortunately, vitamin D3 levels were not measured in the 16 and 1700s, so we have no historic data! However, a study measured the natural levels of D3 of lifeguards in St Louis, USA. The average level was 150 nmol/L. This is my base target level as it is perfectly natural for humans to have this level. Please read more about high but safe levels of D3 visit the Vitamin D Council website: http://www.vitamindcouncil.org/about-vi ... vitamin-d/
Vitamin D3 is vital for human health because it is a precursor for vitamin D3 hormone (also known as Calcitriol), which is an immune system regulator. This means that vitamin D3 is also useful for those with progressive MS, not only in relapsing-remitting MS.
Some very recent research on MS uses vitamin D3 and Calcitriol in a novel protocol to reset the immune system. It works in mice and I await a ‘proof of concept’ trial in humans, with great interest. It could be a cheap and effective breakthrough for MS relapses.Get your level checked
I recommend that you get your D3 level checked and your calcium levels measured at the same time. Your GP/Practise Nurse can do this on the NHS. Measuring calcium and vitamin D together is a good indication of bone health. It is helpful to know your baseline before starting to take D3 supplements.
My advice for anyone with MS is to take 5000 IU a day of vitamin D3, all year round. I take 10,000 IU in the winter (daylight saving period of October to March) and 5,000 IU in the lighter, summer months. Added to this, I love sunbathing and try to get a sunny winter holiday.
However, some people with MS find it hard to get their level up to 150 nmol/L even if they are taking 10,000 IU dose every day. They may not be absorbing vitamin D well because they don’t have enough of certain minerals and trace elements, sometimes called co-factors. When this happens I suggest taking Lambert’s Mega Mineral Complex (other brands contain similar ingredients). Vitamin D3 is cheap, Why not take it?
The price of vitamin D3 is low. Giving 5,000IU a day to all of the 100,000 of us with MS would cost less than £2 million. It makes economic sense, so why will politicians not just do it for everyone with MS in the UK???
A diagnosis of MS costs £1m in a person’s lifetime if you include lost earnings and the cost to the family, the NHS and the economy. Taking vitamin D3 might be able to reduce the incidence of MS and its enormous costs.
Mark Walker supplies 5000 IU of vitamin D3 in a soft gelatine capsule to any member or visitor of the Oxford MS Therapy Centre (http://www.omstc.org
) who wants it (Personal callers only). Current price is £12 for a year’s supply of 360 capsules, which he imports from the USA. Your GP may give you 5,000IU per day on an NHS prescription – it’s worth asking.
A background to Mark Walker is in this Daily Telegraph intervew: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/78823 ... elief.html
Mark Walker - Oxfordshire, England. Registered Pharmacist (UK). 10 years of study around MS.
Mark's CCSVI Report 7-Mar-11: