Welcome! This blog contains research & information on lifestyle, nutrition and health for those with MS, as well as continuing information on the understanding of the endothelium and heart-brain connection. This blog is informative only--all medical decisions should be discussed with your own physicians.

The posts are searchable---simply type in your topic of interest in the search box at the top left.

Almost all of MS research is initiated and funded by pharmaceutical companies. This maintains the EAE mouse model and the auto-immune paradigm of MS, and continues the 20 billion dollar a year MS treatment industry. But as we learn more about slowed blood flow, gray matter atrophy, and environmental links to MS progression and disability--all things the current drugs do not address--we're discovering more about how to help those with MS.

To learn how this journey began, read my first post from August, 2009. Be well! Joan

Monday, December 7, 2015

Vitamin D News--it boosts remyelination!

This just in today----

Vitamin D boosts remyelination
Researchers at the University of Cambridge set out to find what controls oligodendrocyte progenator cells (OPCs) ability to differentiate and create myelin--and discovered that it is Vitamin D which binds and activates vitamin D receptors and controls myelin sheath regeneration.  In fact, remyelination of axons is impaired when Vitamin D receptor (VDR) is blocked.  When Vitamin D was added to the brain's stem cells, production of OPCs increased 80%.

In case we need even more proof that Vitamin D is an important part of MS recovery,   I'd like to round up the latest crop of papers, published in 2015,  linking higher Vitamin D levels with better health for people with MS.

Vitamin D prevents brain atrophy
Researchers at Yale University discovered that higher serum levels of Vitamin D is linked to higher levels of gray matter in the brain, and lower rates of tissue loss, or brain atrophy, in MS. They looked at 65 pwMS and measured brain volume on MRI.   The strongest correlation was between low Vitamin D levels and brain atrophy.

Vitamin D strengthens endothelial cells
A study from the University of Utah found that Vitamin D stabilizes the endothelium and strengthens the vasculature.  It acts directly on endothelial cells to inhibit vascular leak.  Since inflammation and "auto-immune" reactions are a function of plasmic particles leaking into tissue and setting off an immune reaction (in places like the gut or blood brain barrier)---finding ways to strengthen endothelial cells is vitally important.

Higher Vitamin D levels means more time from RRMS to SPMS conversion
Researchers in the Netherlands found that there was an association of low Vitamin D levels at the start of diagnosis of MS which was linked to an early conversion to SPMS.  Those with higher Vitamin D levels took longer to convert to SPMS.

Higher levels of sun exposure decreases MS risk
Australian researchers find the UV ray exposure is associated with lower MS progression rates and disease activity, through both Vitamin D and non-Vitamin D pathways.  UV rays modify and regulate immune cells.

Pretty impressive research!  But are the benefits of Vitamin D for those with MS simply recent news?  Not really.  Dr. Ashton Embry's Direct-MS site is where Dr. Terry Wahls and many of us first heard about the connection between Vitamin D and improved MS outcomes almost a decade ago.  In fact, Direct-MS funded two trials on Vitamin D, and both had very positive results published in 2009 and 2010.  Thanks to the Embry Family for funding and pushing this research!

I've been writing about the therapeutic powers of vitamin D on the vascular endothelium since 2008.  I also included sunshine and UV rays.

Here's a blog post from 2010, where I explain how Vitamin D provides "vasculoprotection" and prevents brain atrophy.

Here's some completely anecdotal evidence from our home:
Jeff's Vitamin D level has stayed around 70ng/mL since he began supplementing and getting rays, and he continues to do well, with no MS progression or disabilities.  His Vitamin D level was at 15ng/mL when diagnosed for MS in 2007.  We had to pay for his first D3 test, since it wasn't covered by insurance. Our doctor asked why we wanted his D3 levels tested, and I shared the Direct-MS site with her.  Since then, our insurance company has seen the light (pun intended!) and covers yearly testing of D3 levels.  As for me, I hadn't been taking any D3 supplements, but that's recently changed. This past spring, my level was 17ng/mL and I was put on a high dose (50,000IU) weekly dosage for 2 months.  My levels are now good at 65g/mL and I maintain that with 4,000IU daily. I have much less arthritis pain and more energy.  There's a link to optimizing Vitamin D levels for healthy people, too.

Also know that there are many environmental factors which can contribute to a lower Vitamin D status- including obesity, older age, living in a more northern latitude with less UV exposure, smoking, skin color and pigmentation, micronutrient and mineral deficiencies (especially magnesium and zinc) and genetic mutations on the Vitamin D receptor (VDR) gene---and all of these factors may influence your serum Vitamin D levels.

So, while this info on Vitamin D is not new or ground-breaking for most following MS research, it is further building on the foundation.  Let this be a shout out to all people with MS.  Find out what your Vitamin D levels are, and make sure you optimize them!  This doesn't always mean simply taking a supplement.  It might involve more sun exposure or phototherapy, quitting smoking, losing weight and eating a whole food diet.  Work with your healthcare provider to establish the best program for you, and get those numbers up!  And don't forget, it's not about one pill or supplement, it's about living a new life.

Be well,


  1. Thank you from ENGLAND UK from me Joan

  2. I have just got a blood test for vitamin D level which was 55 ng/ml even though the range that they suggesting is 40-60 ng/ml but what is the range for pwMS?

  3. There really is no consensus yet, Vahid. 55ng/mL is considered great, but some specialists state 60-70 is optimal for MS. All agree that anything greater than 100 is too much. Here's some recent research on MS and D levels (note that levels are reported as nmol/L---not ng/mL To convert a test result measured in ng/ml to one measured in nmol/l, multiply the ng/ml number by 2.5. For example, 20 ng/ml is the same as 50 nmol/l (20 x 2.5). http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/852710

  4. PwMS needs higher than normal level, at least 80-100 ng/ml. This is minimum. To have full effect, google about high dose vitamin D treatment and MS. High doses stops progression.

    1. Is there any published information on this recommendation? It's very easy to make claims of "stopping progression"----but we really need documented, peer-reviewed and published research to say things like that. At least on my blog. Please link any scientific evidence. Thanks!

  5. Very interesting. I got MS in Feb 2015. For 3 years prior I ahd been getting plenty of sunshine, living in subtropical Queensland, swimming and my job had me visiting customers, walking in the sun.
    I did have a bad case of glandular fever at age 19. And I smoked.

    A month ago I started research into vitamin D, increasing my dosage to 4000 IU per day, 2000 in the morning, 2000 at night. Felt a definite increase in energy. I am on Rituximab (4 months), which has been amazing.Symptoms are still falling away,(from wheelchair to forearm crutches in 4 months!)so it is difficult to measure defectiveness of Vitamin D. However, there are some new improvements: sensation in fingertips, Optical neuritis has gone completely, in fact eyesight in left eye (always my weak eye) has IMPROVED to a degree better than I have had for 10 years!

    1. Glad you are feeling better, regaining function and healing, Tim! Keep taking the Vitamin D, keep moving, don't go back to smoking, eat a whole food diet, and keep reading and learning. There are so many things you can do to help yourself. Wishing you all the best!

    2. An update. Still improving, although I suspect my time for another infusion of Rituximab is drawing near. Aches in right hand and knee. Is this arthritis? Never had it before! Walking is now greatly improved. Furniture surfing on a regular basis, bedroom to kitchen/bathroom etc. Too 6 steps (about 2-3 meters) with no aids at all. OK, more staggers than steps. LOL. Thinking of increasing dosage from 2 x 2000 IU to 2 x 3000, or should I go 3x2000? Healing happens mainly while asleep, I believe. Any advice?

    3. Hi Tim, good to hear from you. Aches may have nothing to do with MS...and due to aging, or something else. Research says up to 10,000IU of Vitamin D daily is most helpful, and safe. I'm not a big fan of Rituximab and other immune ablating drugs, because more research is showing the beneficial role of immune cells for the brain-- especially T cells which maintain the blood brain barrier. My research hero is Dr. Michal Schwartz--my new blog post is all about her research. Rituximab depletes helpful t and b cells. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23918413 But I am certainly not a neuro...keep moving and doing well, and check in again!

  6. References - Paul, B. (2018, December 6). Zinc Testosterone Scientific Study: Benefits, Dosage & Side Effects Guide. Retrieved December 6, 2018, from https://testosteroneofficial.com/research/vitamin-k2-mk7/