Sunny days can be a mood lifter, but more than that, sun exposure allows the body to produce vitamin D in the skin. Multiple sclerosis is known to have an increased prevalence and incidence in populations living further from the equator. This sun-MS potential connection has led researchers to take a look at the possible role of vitamin D in multiple sclerosis.
Although the data continues to be inconclusive about specific benefits of vitamin D supplementation in MS prevention or treatment, there is reason to continue examining the issue. In fact, the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada convened a panel of experts to review this very topic and concluded that the evidence was compelling enough to recommend that people diagnosed with MS should ensure their vitamin D levels are adequate. Adequate levels of vitamin D equate to serum 25-(OH)D in the range of 50–125 nmol/L, or if considered as dietary/supplemental intake, as equivalent to 600 – 4,000 IU per day. This does not mean that vitamin D is a treatment, per se, for MS.
Vitamin D deficiencies are not uncommon in the United States and maintaining adequate vitamin D blood levels offers numerous health benefits overall. In addition, a study this year reports that the usage of vitamin D supplements in a population of people with MS was associated with higher quality of life scores. This connection held, even after adjusting for age, comorbidities, MS disability, relapse symptoms, and antidepressant usage.
Whether it’s from the sun, vitamin D-rich foods, or perhaps even a supplement, vitamin D could benefit those with multiple sclerosis.