Multiple Sclerosis and Vitamins D, B12, and Fish Oil
What vitamins are best for my multiple sclerosis?
Currently the research is showing great promise for vitamin D and multiple sclerosis (MS).
With the rising use of sunscreen for skin cancer prevention, vitamin D deficiency is at an all time high.
We have consequently seen an interesting rise in autoimmune conditions that may thus result from lack of adequate vitamin D levels in the system. Aside from the vitamin D our skin creates from UV light, the only decent dietary sources are fish, yeast, fungus, and fortified milk.
For most people a dose of vitamin D at 1000 IU is therapeutic. Please work with a naturopathic physician if you choose to increase that dose, as the life threatening condition hypercalcemia can potentially occur.
Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin that stores in our body, and may play a role in the multiple sclerosis phenomena, as prevalence of MS increases the further people live from the equator. Also, traditional diets in northern European regions typically heavily rely on cold water fish, a natural source of vitamin D.
Research shows that vitamin D helps prevent falls in the elderly. For wheelchair bound patients with MS unable to engage in weight bearing exercise, vitamin D also serves to prevent osteoporosis. This vitamin, that is now considered a “pro-hormone” importantly plays a role in “cell differentiation” which results in healthier cells and tissues in our body. Normally formed and functioning cells are imperative to a healthy immune system.
Another way to receive vitamin D is in cod liver oil. Preliminary studies on the efficacy of the anti-inflammatory components in fish oil look promising for MS. For most patients I would recommend 1 tablespoon of cod liver oil twice daily with food. A study listed below utilized four tablespoons daily, however, if one is monitored by their physician for potential bleeding complications or drug interactions an increased dose may also be implemented.
Please ALWAYS check with your physician for drug interactions before adding any nutritional therapies in to your regimen as many vitamins have drug interactions. Fish oil for instance should not be consumed by those that are pregnant, have bleeding disorders, or are on anti-coagulant medications.
Vitamin B12 (cyanocobalmin) may also be helpful for MS patients as this vitamin helps form the myelin sheath of neurons, the component of the nervous system that is attacked and destroyed by the immune system in MS.
A small study of patients receiving an injection of 1000mcg of Vitamin B12 showed mild improvement in symptoms. Because vitamin B12 is water soluble, toxicity is not of much concern and this therapeutic that is as dirt cheap as vitamin D is well worth trying. Supplementation of B12 is absolutely necessary for those with MS that are on a vegan diet to reduce inflammation. Oral administration of B-12 is typically just as efficacious, and one can take B12 at 1000 mcg daily.
Diet is extremely important for MS. I have seen dramatic improvement in patients that have followed an Allergy Elimination Diet as well as the Anti-Inflammatory Diet. Cleaning up the diet, managing stress, quitting smoking, reducing animal fats in the diet, gentle pool water aerobics, and ensuring good sleep at night are important foundations to a natural healing program for MS.
Thanks for stopping by my kitchen table to ask the question. If you have any additional questions on this you can leave them in the comments section.
PMID: 8755567; 1,25-Dihydroxyvitamin D3 reversibly blocks the progression of relapsing encephalomyelitis, a model of multiple sclerosis. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1996 Jul 23;93(15):7861-4.
PMID: 15054436; Multiple sclerosis and vitamin D: an update. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2004 Aug;58(8):1095-109.
PMID: 12185153; A randomized placebo controlled exploratory study of vitamin B-12, lofepramine, and L-phenylalanine (the “Cari Loder regime”) in the treatment of multiple sclerosis. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 2002 Sep;73(3):246-9.
PMID: 10987373; Effect of dietary advice and n-3 supplementation in newly diagnosed MS patients. Acta Neurol Scand. 2000 Sep;102(3):143-9. (good review of the research done before)
PMID: 2540285; A double-blind controlled trial of long chain n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in the treatment of multiple sclerosis. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 1989 Jan;52(1):18-22.