November 8, 2018
MS Society of Canada launches vitamin D recommendations for MS
The Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada has launched evidence-informed recommendations on vitamin D supplementation that can help people affected by MS make informed decisions about their health. These recommendations will provide information for at-risk populations and people diagnosed with MS as well as highlight comorbid conditions and toxicity associated with vitamin D supplementation.
Referred to as the “sunshine vitamin”, vitamin D is produced by our skin through sun exposure but can also come from other sources like supplements and diet (eggs, fish and fortified dairy products). Vitamin D works to help absorb nutrients, particularly calcium, and more recently vitamin D has been investigated for other health benefits.
Vitamin D is a hot topic in multiple sclerosis (MS) research and the association between vitamin D and MS risk, and vitamin D as a potential disease modifier has been the centre of considerable attention and public discussion for years. As research continues to advance to identify and strengthen the link between vitamin D and MS, the MS Society has developed recommendations that can help people affected by MS to make informed decisions about their health.
To develop these recommendations, the Society convened a panel of scientific and clinical experts as well as representatives from other national MS Societies and an individual living with MS to discuss the available evidence on the link between vitamin D and MS. Fruitful discussions between the panel of experts led to the development of evidence-informed statements which formed the basis of the recommendations.
The MS Society recommendations provide information about the general role of vitamin D in the human body as well as reference the Health Canada recommendations, including sources of vitamin D. The purpose of these recommendations is to provide the suggested daily intake of vitamin D for various populations affected by MS including the at-risk population (children and adults with a biological relative diagnosed with MS), and individuals diagnosed with MS. In addition to the recommended daily intake of vitamin D, information on maintaining vitamin D levels is provided. Vitamin D levels are measured through a blood test. Comorbid conditions such as osteoporosis and vitamin D toxicity are also discussed in the recommendations.
The recommendations support healthcare providers and policymakers by providing a detailed assessment of the evidence on vitamin D and its role in MS to help with clinical practice and inform public health policy. Due to the rigor used in their development and comprehensiveness, the recommendations are endorsed by The Canadian Network of Multiple Sclerosis Clinics and The Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers.
The association between vitamin D and MS is still an area of considerable research. Research funded by the MS Society has added to the growing evidence on the link between vitamin D deficiency and MS, including MS risk and how vitamin D deficiency may affect the course and severity of the disease. The MS Society is committed to supporting research on factors that may contribute to the risk and progression of MS, including vitamin D. Until more evidence becomes available on vitamin D and MS, we encourage individuals with MS who are exploring options regarding their health to maintain ongoing consultation with their healthcare team.