We don’t run around naked as much as we should
I heard this during the 13th Annual UCSD MS Symposium in San Diego as neurologists fielded questions from the audience about the relationship between vitamin D and multiple sclerosis. And, they weren’t trying to be weird. Rather, these respected doctors encouraged us to monitor our vitamin D levels and get out in the sun more. Nothing new here, though, as we have all seen the same news bulletins: low levels of vitamin D may influence multiple sclerosis. And, there’s the hypothesis that supplementation with vitamin D may have a protective effect.
Some researchers have gone on record saying that, during childhood years, without the intense sunlight providing the necessary levels of vitamin D, there could be a higher risk for developing MS. When I first heard this, I thought, “That’s so weird. How did I get MS then?” Growing up on Long Island, summertime fun included spraying a bottle of Sun-In throughout my hair and lying out in the sun protected by nothing but a layer of Hawaiian Tropics dark tanning oil.
Yet, my neuro recently told me he’d like to see me get some more of the ‘sunshine vitamin’. “Your vitamin D levels are too low”, he said. “I’d like to see your levels rise up to 80 ng/mL.” Mine are at 25.3 ng/mL. I have a lot of work to do. He told me that studies have proven increased levels of the D helps with MS patients. Hmmm. It seems he’s read the same articles as I have. “I do love the sun”, I told him. “I’m in. What do I need to do?”
He told me to try getting out in the sun every day for 15 minutes, at 10AM and again at 4PM, without sunblock. “Oh, I can do that,” I replied. “I’ll walk outside at these times. I do need to take more breaks at the office.” “That may not work”, he replied. “Preferably, a large surface area should be exposed.” He demonstrated on his chest where he meant. To clarify, I asked him, “You want me to walk around without my top on, in the sun?” Um, pretty much. He didn’t quite say that and simply repeated, “A large surface area is preferred, to absorb the vitamin D”, he told me. “You need as much exposure as you can, without sunblock.” I replied, “Now, wait a minute doctor. I can’t be walking around without my top on at the office. I will get fired for sure!”
This was the second time in one week that I’ve heard a neurologist talk about running around naked. There’s got to be a better way. My neuro told me, “If you can’t get in the sun, you should take 5,000 units per day of vitamin D.”
I niggled...“So, what gives? I share my neuro’s concern about my low vitamin D levels yet am concerned about being in the sun without sunblock. This is totally natural, because we are together in the fight against skin cancer. After all, my mom had melanoma (she’s okay, thanks goodness but was not at all amused by my sun worshipping in the 80’s). So if the sun is out and the ‘sunshine vitamin’ is in, just what are the side effects of taking vitamin D every day?” I googled this and according to livestrong.com, the side effects include: upset stomach or weight loss, increased thirst or urination, metallic taste in mouth, fatigue or weakness (like I need more of this!), bone pain or muscle problems. “Well, that sounds like fun”.
So, I decided to take things slow. I am dedicated to sitting on my patio in the sun, with a bathing suit top on, for fifteen minutes twice a day, on the weekends. More or less what the doctored ordered. Minus the walking around naked part. That’s just not gonna happen.
How about you? Have you supplemented your MS life with vitamin D? And, did you get out in the sun more or just start on some vitamin D tablets?
Do you live with any comorbidities aside from MS?