The Importance of Vitamin D in Multiple Sclerosis

Vitamin D deficiency is more common than you might think. This vital nutrient can be obtained through sunlight exposure, dietary intake, or supplements. While Vitamin D is not present in many foods, small amounts can be found in milk (including plant-based alternatives like soy milk, almond milk, and oat milk), fatty fish, egg yolks, and mushrooms. Vitamin D helps create an anti-inflammatory environment in the immune system, lowering the risk of chronic inflammation.

Multiple Sclerosis is a condition where the immune system is not functioning properly, leading to inflammation and damage to the protective myelin sheath that surrounds nerve fibers. This inflammation happens when the immune cells enter the central nervous system, which causes the formation of lesions, disrupts normal nerve signaling, and results in various neurological symptoms. According to some studies, there is a link between lower levels of vitamin D and an increased risk of MS. Therefore, consuming vitamin D through your diet could contribute to reducing your risk of developing this disease. 

Although the prevalence of MS is lower in countries closer to the equator, individuals living with MS need to maintain adequate levels of vitamin D as it can reduce the risk of relapse and the development of new scars or lesions on MRI. A blood test can determine the levels of Vitamin D in your body. Your doctor will advise you to take Vitamin D supplements if your levels are low as studies suggest that an optimized and well-monitored level is preferred. We recommend 2000-5000 IU of Vitamin D3 for our patients with MS based on their blood levels. For some cases, a prescription strength of 50000 IU, taken once a week, can be prescribed to facilitate the intake of vitamins. This higher dose is usually given for a few weeks to months. However, we need to be cautious about Vitamin D toxicity, which can lead to fatigue, renal changes, or cardiac arrhythmia. Overall, we need more data on the exact mechanism of how Vitamin D affects MS and autoimmune disorders. 


Romae Hylton-Gordon

Patient Navigator

Weill Cornell Multiple Sclerosis Center

Weill Cornell Medicine Multiple Sclerosis Center 1305 York Ave., Second Floor New York, NY 10021