Recent Studies Explain Why Vitamin D Supplementation is Helpful for MS, Autoimmune and Chronic Inflammatory Conditions 03/14/12

It is estimated that 1 billion people around the world are vitamin D deficient. A recent experimental study helps explain the many anecdotal reports of patients being helped by Vitamin D supplementation in cases of MS, autoiummune, and/or chronic inflammatory conditions. The study published by Zhang Y and fellow researchers, in The Journal Of Immunology (2012), showed that Vitamin D activates immune cells (e.g. macrophages) in a way that suppresses the release of inflammatory chemicals, which are hallmark features of autoimmune diseases, and many chronic inflammatory states.

These researchers showed that Vitamin D activates a specific signal transduction pathway and specific genes that suppress the production and secretion of  Interleukin -6 (IL-6) and Tumor Necrosis Factor – alpha (TNF-α ) by human monocytes. Over-secretion of IL-6 and TNF-alpha are the primary drivers of the inflammatory cascade that makes autoimmune diseases and chronic inflammation so difficult to manage. The drugs used to suppress the immune system in these diseases are designed to suppress these same inflammatory compounds (IL-6, TNF-alpha). The difference is that the drugs have side effects such as,  increased risk of cancer and opportunisitic infection (including activation of tuberculosis), whereas Vitamin D helps to prevent cancer and opportunistic infection, via its other modulating effects on the immune system.

This is not to say that patients with MS, autoimmune diseases and chronic inflammatory conditions should abandon their medications, but rather to suggest that they should employ complementary nutrition, lifestyle and supplementation measures shown to help improve their condition, as they also help reduce reliance on immunosuppressive drugs and anti-inflammatory medications.

In this regard Vitamin D is an outstanding consideration. In cases of MS, autoimmune disease and chronic inflammatory states, as well as weakened immune states, I encourage individuals to supplement with 5,000 – 10,000 IU of  Vitamin D per day.  Blood monitoring is required from your physician to make sure you don’t develop Vitamin D toxicity (Vitamin D blood level above 250 nmol/L), but this is very unlikely to occur, unless the individual sufferers from parathyroidism, sarcoidosis or hypercalcemia of malignancy.At the Canadian Cancer Immunotherapy Centre (Toronto) I put our cancer patients on at least 10,000 Vitamin D  per day, as part of the total integrative medicine approach, when I perform the nutrition consultation.

The research by Zhang et al, has helped us better understand important mechanisms through which Vitamin D suppresses inflammation in states of autoimmunity and chronic inflammation. This landmark study helps to further justify the inclusion of Vitamin D supplementation in the complementary management of these cases.

If you suffer from an autoimmune condition of any kind you should download a free copy of my ebook on how to control joint inflammation and autoimmune conditions and arthritis, naturally. You can download this ebook for free at: http://www.meschinohealth.com/LP/Joint_Pain_Arthritis_and_Inflammation/

Reference: Zhang Y et al. Vitamin D Inhibits Monocyte/Macrophage Proinflammatory Cytokine Production by Targeting MAPK Phosphatase-1. Journal of Immunology (2012), 188:2127-2135

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