I intend this blog to be a mixture of my personal experiences with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and news related to MS. Hopefully, I can shed an optimistic light on MS even though it is difficult to be an optimist living with MS.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Fun in the Sun

Spent some time at the zoo today with my nephews and soaked up some vitamin D!  So I thought I would share some more information on vitamin D.

First, I recently read this article about "the new rules of sun safety" that included stuff about using sunscreen and covering up when in the sun, but it also contained this little tidbit:
Old rule: A little sun is healthy—20 minutes three times a week allows your body to produce vitamin D.
New rule: It’s not smart to go out-of-doors unprotected.

Here’s the deal: Your body does need vitamin D to keep bones healthy and support your immune system, but supplements are the safest way to get your dose of D—without the scary side effects of sun exposure. "Even a little bit of sun causes cellular damage that can lead to aging and cancer," says Francesca Fusco, MD, a dermatologist in New York City. Have your doctor check your D level; if it’s low, discuss taking a daily supplement containing 400 to 1,000 IU.
I find this to be a little interesting because it is my understanding that the vitamin D produced via sun exposure is absorbed by your body better than supplements.  I don't disagree that you should wear sunscreen and protect yourself when in the sun because of the risk of skin cancer, however, I think that spending time in the sun, soaking up that oh-so-important vitamin D, can be beneficial to everyone, especially MSers.

The most recent NMSS magazine (Momentum) contained an article about vitamin D (you can read the article here).  Here is what I took from the article:
  1. The Institute of Medicine ("organization that establishes appropriate dietary intake values for vitamins and minerals") established a "sufficient" level of vitamin D which is likely too conservative, especially for MSers.  Their recommended daily intake amount is 600-800 IUs, which some professional organizations, physicians and scientists feel is too low.
  2. Vitamin D "has effects in nerve, muscle, and immune cells that could potentially affect the disease process of MS.
  3. Vitamin D deficiency is associated with an increased risk and increased disease severity of MS (as well as diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis), muscle weakness, and an increased risk of falls; it may also increase the risk or severity of heart disease and multiple forms of cancer.
  4. High doses of vitamin D (50,000 IU or more daily) "may trigger high blood calcium levels, impaired kidney function and other serious side effects."
  5. The "Tolerable Upper Intake Level" for adults is 4,000 IUs daily
  6. Although we don't know certainties, it appears as though vitamin D may have important implications for MS, so MSers should get your vitamin D levels tested (I got mine tested and my levels were low) and discuss appropriate action to take with your doctor if your levels are low (caveat: I am no doctor, this is just my personal opinion).
 Also, after reading about "the new rules of sun safety," I learned that there is a product that you use when washing your clothes that somehow washes 30 SPF into all of your clothing.  It is called SunGuard, check it out here.  Very interesting!

Hopefully, I will get to soak up some more vitamin D tomorrow, I think my husband and I are going to do some Memorial Day grilling! 


  1. I was taking a 5,000IU daily for a minute, but recently stopped. I guess I was expecting to see some noticeable difference. I didn't.

  2. Sorry to hear that you didn't see any difference. I take about 3,000 IUs daily in supplements. I have been taking daily Copaxone injections since October, I take vitamin D supplements, fish oil supplements, and calcium citrate; I also have been maintaining a low-fat diet and have significantly reduced the amount of red meat that I eat (I only eat red meat about once a month now). I have essentially been symptom-free since January (with the exception of the occasional attack when my core temperature is up) - I don't know if one thing or a combination of everything is working for me, but I won't be changing my regimen anytime soon.

  3. Hi, my name is Heather. I found your blog on the NMSSGA Facebook page. It's very good and I wanted to share my blog with you.


    Thanks in advance for taking a look and keep up the optimism!

  4. Thanks for sharing Heather!