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.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.
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.
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:
- 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.
- Vitamin D "has effects in nerve, muscle, and immune cells that could potentially affect the disease process of MS.
- 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.
- 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."
- The "Tolerable Upper Intake Level" for adults is 4,000 IUs daily
- 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).
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!