Did you know sunlight and Vitamin D have a positive effect on MS? In this article, we'll explore why that might be.

Sunlight

Although there are exceptions, MS is more common in areas farther away from the equator. That suggests an environmental factor is at play, such as sunlight exposure, which is linked to a reduced risk of developing MS as well as an improved course of MS.

It's well known that sunlight exposure causes our bodies to produce Vitamin D and that's an obvious benefit. When you consider that the vast majority of us spend much less time in the sun than our dark-skinned hunter-gatherer ancestors did, it's only logical that we likely have less Vitamin D than would be ideal.

We are beginning to understand that there's more to the picture, however, as research suggests that sunlight appears to exert beneficial effects independent of Vitamin D.

As MS Research Australia reports:

  • An Australian study showed that people with higher sun exposure had lower conversion to clinically definite MS and lower numbers of relapses. Similar consistent results were not seen for the level of vitamin D in the blood and the course of a person’s MS.
  • A study from the USA showed that lifetime sun exposure was associated with risk of developing MS in black, white and Hispanic people, whereas low vitamin D levels were a risk factor only for white people.

A Possible Benefit

The radiation from sunlight comes in three flavors (UVA, UVB, and UVC), although only two (UVA and UVB) reach us.

UVB has been the focus of most interest, as MS is linked to Vitamin D deficiencies (as we discuss below) and UVB radiation causes your body to produce Vitamin D.

UVA radiation has been shown to reduce the production of the enzymes MMP-2 and MMP-9. These MMPs (matrix metalloproteinases) have a role in degrading the blood-brain barrier, which facilitates the entry of immune cells into the brain.

While Vitamin D production and the downregulation (reduction) of MMP-2 and MMP-9 are known benefits of sunlight exposure, there are undoubtedly more.

Vitamin D

It's long been known that Vitamin D deficiency is an important risk factor for MS. One study found that Vitamin D deficiency raises the risk of MS by around 43%.

Here are some ways that Vitamin D helps that are very relevant to MS:

Given these benefits, it's not too surprising that some medical practitioners promote high-dose Vitamin D as a treatment for MS. Cicero Coimbra, MD, is one such practitioner, and his treatment (dubbed the "Coimbra Protocol") purportedly involves Vitamin D, Vitamin B2, magnesium, and omega-3 DHA.

Treatments for Vitamin D Deficiency

There are a couple of options for treating Vitamin D deficiency aside from increasing sun exposure.

1. UVB Phototherapy

Another option is UVB phototherapy, which has been used as a treatment for psoriasis and has more recently been used for MS as well.

2. Vitamin D Supplementation

Some doctors prescribe a weekly dose of 50,000 IU (international units) of Vitamin D2 for a short period of time. Considering that medical practitioners typically recommend 2,000 IU/day, 50,000 IU is a lot to ingest in one sitting.

A daily regimen of Vitamin D3 may be a good option, as Vitamin D3 is easily obtainable over-the-counter and in many dosage options. Vitamin D3 is more beneficial than Vitamin D2 is, so be sure to check the label.

A Word Of Caution

Vitamin D draws the calcium out from food, depositing it into the blood. Too much calcium in the blood can cause a host of conditions including artherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).

To prevent the buildup of calcium during Vitamin D supplementation, consider taking Vitamin K2 (the more bioactive form of K). Vitamin K transports calcium to your bones.

If you are looking for some good D3 + K2 options, here are some solid choices from brands I trust (disclaimer: these are affiliate links):

If you have a severe Vitamin D deficiency, you may want to increase your D3 intake until you're at a good level, in which case these may be good options:

Additionally, it's advisable to monitor your Vitamin D and calcium levels (via blood tests) during Vitamin D supplementation.

Conclusion

Chances are that if you have MS, you have a Vitamin D deficiency and should seek to correct the deficiency.

Get your Vitamin D levels checked by your doctor and get some more sun!

If you work in a dog-friendly work environment, take a dog on a walk once a day if you're not already. It's good for the body and good for the soul.

Obligatory disclaimer: This content is meant to be informational. As everyone's body is different, what works for others may not work for you. I am not a doctor and you're probably not either. You should consult with your doctor before trying anything. Don't sue me.
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