MS Society of Canada Releases Vitamin D Recommendations for People Living with MS and Those at Risk
Toronto, ON – November 14, 2018 – The Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada released today evidence-informed recommendations for vitamin D supplementation and maintenance of vitamin D serum levels to help people affected by multiple sclerosis (MS) make informed decisions about their health.
Research has shown a strong link between vitamin D deficiency and an increased risk of developing MS. The recommendations provide information for at-risk populations as well as people diagnosed with MS. The document also highlights comorbid conditions and information on toxicity associated with vitamin D supplementation. Informed by evidence in the field and developed through consultation and collaboration with members of the research community and people living with MS, the recommendations are endorsed by The Canadian Network of Multiple Sclerosis Clinics and The Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers .
“According to multiple studies, vitamin D deficiency is a risk factor for MS,” said Dr. Ruth Ann Marrie, Director, MS Clinic, Winnipeg Health Sciences Centre and a member of the Vitamin D and MS Panel who worked on the recommendations. “As vitamin D is produced due to sun exposure, Canadians are particularly vulnerable to vitamin D deficiency due to our geographical location. If you’re not getting enough sunlight, which can be a common problem during the winter months, or being careful about sun exposure to reduce the risk of skin cancer, it is important to supplement your diet to ensure adequate intake.”
Vitamin D promotes calcium absorption, needed to build and strengthen bones, and directly interacts with genes associated with the immune system. In addition to decreasing the risk of developing MS, vitamin D may also beneficially modify the course of MS. People with biological family members who have MS are at higher risk of developing the disease. Other lifestyle factors that could modify one’s risk of developing MS include past exposure to Epstein - Barr virus, smoking and second-hand tobacco exposure, and obesity. Generally, adults with MS and those at risk for MS should consume between 600-4000 IU of vitamin D to ensure sufficient intake to achieve the target vitamin D serum level status. It is imperative to consult a medical professional to determine the optimal range and appropriate monitoring on an individual basis. Vitamin D should not be the sole method of treatment for MS.
“Information like this is important,” says Marie-Ève Simard whose mother lives with MS. “There are many uncertainties surrounding MS but having these recommendations available to someone like myself, who may be at risk of the disease, gives me hope.”
To ensure you’re meeting your recommended daily vitamin D intake, the recommendations outline sun exposure, vitamin D supplements, and food sources including fatty fish, egg yolks, and foods enriched with vitamin D.
The MS Society of Canada is investigating vitamin D protocols within each province to determine the next steps in their advocacy efforts for Canadians with MS. Currently, vitamin D tests are not conducted routinely unless there is a high risk of deficiency. Voluntary testing can cost anywhere between $35 - $100 per test.
“We took on this project as part of our commitment to help improve the lives of those living with MS,” said Dr. Pam Valentine, President, CEO, MS Society of Canada. “The MS Society of Canada supports the right to affordable and accessible treatment options for those living with and affected by MS, including vitamin D testing.”
People living with MS are encouraged to talk with their healthcare team to discuss their options in managing their MS.
Click here to read more about vitamin D and the MS Society’s recommendations.
About multiple sclerosis and the MS Society of Canada
Canada has one of the highest rates of multiple sclerosis in the world with 11 Canadians diagnosed with MS every day. MS is a chronic, often disabling disease of the central nervous system comprising the brain, spinal cord and optic nerve. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 15 and 40 and the unpredictable effects of the disease last for the rest of their lives. The MS Society provides programs and services for people with MS and their families, advocates for those living with MS, and funds research to help improve the quality of life for people living with MS and to ultimately find a cure for this disease. Please visit mssociety.ca or call 1-800-268-7582 to make a donation or for more information. Join the conversation and connect with the MS community online. Find the MS Society on Twitter, Instagram or like our page on Facebook.
MS Society of Canada
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