Vitamin D and Multiple Sclerosis

You know, there might be something to all this talk about nutrient-rich diets and disease prevention. And I’m not just talking about what Dr. Fuhrman has to say about it. Check out this report. According to the Associated Press vitamin D could be instrumental in the prevention of multiple sclerosis. Lindsey Tanner explains:
An abundance of vitamin D seems to help prevent multiple sclerosis, according to a study in more than 7 million people that offers some of the strongest evidence yet of the power of the "sunshine vitamin" against MS…

"…If confirmed, this finding suggests that many cases of MS could be prevented by increasing vitamin D levels," Dr. Alberto Ascherio, the senior author and an associate professor of nutrition at Harvard's School of Public Health said.
Although the study, appearing in Wednesday's Journal of the American Medical Association, warns people not to automatically assume that vitamin D deficiency can cause multiple sclerosis. Now, all this spurred my curiosity. What’s the deal with vitamin D? How important is it? And are people getting enough?

Dr. William Finn, a vitamin D expert at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, doesn’t think so. In Tanner’s article he calls vitamin D deficiency an epidemic in the United States. And he’s not alone, so does Dr. Fuhrman in the September 2005 edition of Healthy Times:
The modern world has an epidemic of vitamin D deficiency and most often a multivitamin containing the RDA for D is simply not sufficient to bring blood levels up to the ideal range, especially as we age.
Okay, so if it’s an epidemic, a vitamin D deficiency must be a pretty easy thing to determine—right? Apparently so, check out this excerpt from Dr. Fuhrman’s Eat to Live:
Vitamin D, often called the sunshine vitamin, is another common deficiency I find when I check the blood levels of my patients. Most of us work indoors and avoid the sun or wear sunscreen, which lowers our vitamin D exposure. Some of us don’t absorb it as well and just require more.
Man we’re a trouble lot; heart disease, cancer, obesity, diabetes, and now an epidemic of vitamin D deficiency. Why’d we bother evolving! But what about the study’s claim, can adequate vitamin D intake actually prevent MS? Back to Healthy Times:
Vitamin D also works in concert with a number of other vitamins, minerals, and hormones to promote bone mineralization. Research also suggests that vitamin D is important to maintain a healthy immune system, regulate cell growth, and prevent cancer. Vitamin D has been shown to protect against the development of autoimmune disease such as inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis, and rheumatoid arthritis. It also has been shown to be helpful in decreasing disease severity for those suffering with autoimmune disease.1
Wow, I guess vitamin D is pretty important. Now given all this, an interesting thing to mention is the danger of vitamin D over-consumption, because according to Dr. Fuhrman it can bring on a whole different set of problems. Here’s a little more from the September 2005 Healthy Times:
Vitamin D toxicity can cause nausea, poor appetite, constipation, weakness, confusion, and weight loss. Sun exposure does not result in vitamin D toxicity. Vitamin D toxicity is only a possibility from high intakes of vitamin D from supplements. The Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine has set the recommended upper intake level to 50g (2,000 IU) for children, adults, and pregnant and lactating women. Vitamin D is one of those vitamins where the right amount is essential—not too much and not too little.
Now you’re probably wondering, what are good sources of vitamin D? In Disease-Proof Your Child Dr. Fuhrman points to the sun, but since most people work indoors, he realizes getting enough sun exposure can be difficult. So some other sources include fortified soy milk and orange juice. And if you’re looking for supplements, give Dr. Fuhrman’s Osteo-Sun a try.
1. Cantorna MT, Zhu Y, Froicu M, Wittke A. Vitamin D status, 1,25-dihydroxy-vitamin D3, and the immune system. Am J Clin Nutr 2004 Dec;80(6 Suppl):1717S-20S. Hein G, Oelzner P. Vitamin D metabolites in rheumatoid arthritis: findings—hypotheses-consequences.
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Commenter - December 23, 2006 9:45 PM

Isn't there a good bit of related info on this in The China Study?

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