We don’t run around naked as much as we should

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?

Best,

Christie

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The MultipleSclerosis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.
View References
1. Ascherio A, Munger, KL, Simon, KC (Jun 2010). "Vitamin D and multiple sclerosis". 2. Dooren Corbett, Jennifer (WSJ, Nov 2012). “Multiple Sclerosis Linked to Vitamin D Levels, Study” 3. Perez, Inez, Wolfson, Elijah (Nov 2012). “Interactive Tool: Multiple Sclerosis and Vitamin D”.

Comments

View Comments (14)
  • Kevin
    5 years ago

    I work outside year round. It was 14 years between my first outbreak and the next . Does this have something to do with the sun? I don’t know, but I think I’m going to stay outside!!!!

  • Jenna
    5 years ago

    Oh, btw, heat causes me to be in extreme pain so I stay inside all summer long. I live in Southeastern NC so sun is not a problem. I am a light skinned redhead but spent a great deal of time in the sun and at the beach growing up. I also have severe hot flashes that I actually call tidal waves and they happen even when I am sitting still with the a/c unit set to 69 degrees. My T4 is slightly low. I am 47. My pain, neuropathy and tingling/ms hugs/numbness increased after the heat this summer.

  • Christie Germans author
    5 years ago

    Hey Jenna. Yes, the heat can be a killer. I live in a very warm part of California where the temps reach 100 degrees in the summer. Taking Vitamin D is a much easier and better alternative than sunning in the backyard. I buy my Vitamin D tablets at the health food store, based on my doctor’s recommendation of taking 4,000/IU’s daily. Maybe talk with your neuro again about starting up the sun vitamin? Hope you’re feeling better now that Fall has begun. Best, Christie

  • Jenna
    5 years ago

    My daughter was dxd with MS at age 21 while pregnant then Lupus recently (she will be 24 in November). I Mixed Connective Tissue Disease and my Neuro is currently testing me for MS, because he thinks perhaps I was misdiagnosed with CFS and Fibro. My Vitamin D level was 19 the last test I had and my ANA was 1:180 with a speckled pattern. I took Vitamin D by script for a while, but my gyn, who prescribed it, only gave me a 6 mths supply, so I discontinued once it ran out 2 years ago. Now I wonder…..

  • Wipninja
    5 years ago

    I currently take 85,000 IU’s weekly and spend as much time in the sun as I can. Living in the Pacific Northwest getting some sun time can be difficult. My D levels are still lower then normal. I have noticed no ill effects from the Vit D. They, The Vitamin D Council, say that there is evidence that Vit D also lowers the chances of breast cancer. Being I have both I’m not to sure about that but my Neuro really feels it does make a difference. I have no neighbors, other then the occasional boat going buy, so it’s running around naked for this girl.

  • Christie Germans author
    5 years ago

    Glad you live in a place where you can run around naked! Ha, ha! On a more serious note, I was sorry to read that you are also dealing with breast cancer and I hope that you are feeling okay these days. Thinking of you. Best, Christie

  • jfalasco
    5 years ago

    I am outside a lot but my D is still low…have spent the summer in shorts ,not sure the naked approach would bide well with the neighbors. Luckily, the heat doesn’t bother me much outside…only when I am inside with no air movement. My neuro recommended 2000 IU’s a day after my last blood test. Its only been a week but I am hoping for the best, which is all I can do.

  • Christie Germans author
    5 years ago

    So glad to hear the heat doesn’t bother you too much. What a relief! Turns out, I don’t have the time to sit in the sun like my neuro suggested so I just started taking Vitamin D (4,000 IU’s per day). Like you, I hope this does the trick. Take care! Christie

  • Sue
    5 years ago

    I was diagnosed just a few months ago and had low Vitamin D levels even though I was already taking about 2000 iu/day. My doc has her patients taking 5000 iu/day, which has my level in the “normal” range, but still only about 35. I haven’t noticed any side effects at all, so I will continue. I have read that it’s okay up to 10000 iu/day. I can’t get out in the sun enough or (LOL) with little enough clothing, so supplements are my answer.

  • Christie Germans author
    5 years ago

    Hey Sue. Glad you stopped by because I’m thinking about starting a regimen of Vitamin D. You’ve given us good info. Besides, I can’t seem to find the time to sit in the sun like my neuro suggested, let alone with little enough clothing! Hope you’re well. Best, Christie

  • Deb Padovano
    6 years ago

    My daughter has MS. I don’t think she would run around naked…LOL but she does take Vitamin D. She has a hard time out in the sun. Since getting MS the heat bothers her terribly. I have sent her your blog about the sun and maybe, when weather permiting, she can attempt getting a few rays a day. Thank you…xxxooo

  • Christie Germans author
    6 years ago

    Hey Deb. Thanks so much for leaving this note and hope this post helps your daughter. I, too, have a hard time being in the sun/heat so I am not sure how long I’ll last with this routine! I’d love to hear how your daughter does on the Vitamin D so keep us posted. Best, Christie

  • itasara
    6 years ago

    I started using Vit. D3 sometime early after I was diagnosed. I had read about the effects of not getting enough Vit. D which became more advertised back then. I live in a city where sun can sometimes be elusive. I am not a sun worshipper type person and I spend many months especially in winter inside and bundled up when I do go out.After I started taking Vit. D I was tested and my results were good. I have no idea what my level was before, but I asked my doc about local statistics and he said he had many patients with a low D level. What they were before I was on D3 I have no idea. I was taking 4 to 5000 iu/ day, but recently I read another article that large amounts could cause some other problems.. honestly I can’t remember what that is at the moment. So I have cut back to 2000 IU capsules. I don’t remember much about sunshine exposure for the first 8 years of my life. I lived then where I do now so it is likely that sun was hard to come by but I am pretty sure I spent little time on the beach. But after 2nd grade we moved away and probably had more sun where we lived, but perhaps by then it was already too late as far as ms prevention is concerned? It wouldn’t have even been a thought that this could happen to me and there were no family members known to have MS.Now prevention is not an issue. I do take the D3 capsules, but once one has MS does it still have an impact on the disease process?

  • Christie Germans author
    6 years ago

    Hey Itasara. So good to meet you. You raise a good question about how Vitamin D impacts the disease process. I’ve read experts who have said “There’s mounting evidence that low vitamin D levels influence the disease.” In another article I found, it’s suggested that Vit D may lessen frequency and severity of symptoms. I’m certainly no expert nor am I a doctor yet it seems to me that Vit D helps our MS. And, I know more studies are being conducted. Thanks so much for stopping by and hope you’re feeling okay today. Best, Christie

    First article I mentioned: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323353204578129280745162230.html

    Second article I mentioned:
    http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/vitamin-d-and-ms/AN01894

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