The RA study followed 29,368 women aged 55 to 69 years, and the MS study looked at more than 185,000 women. The participants were given questionnaires to fill out about their dietary habits and vitamin D intake at the beginning of each study, and researchers followed up with the women every four years for up to 20 years. They discovered that women were 30 percent less likely to develop RA, and 40 percent less likely to develop MS, when taking the recommended daily amount or more of vitamin D.
Out of 100 people worldwide, one or two will develop RA and around 0.04 percent have MS. Both of these conditions are thought to occur when the body’s immune system turns against itself. Researchers suggest that vitamin D may work by calming overactive immune cells.
Responding to this study, vitamin D experts advise future researchers studying vitamin D levels to administer a blood test to read the levels more accurately, and cautioned that this study did not use the best way to determine vitamin D levels in the participants.
Neurology January, 2004 13;62(1):60-5
Arthritis & Rheumatism January, 2004;50(1):72-7
Unfortunately, I believe this study was relatively poorly done as they only used dietary forms to determine vitamin D intake. They found that higher intake of total daily vitamin D, both dietary and supplemental, was associated with the risk of RA and MS. They did not measure vitamin D blood levels, which is critical as sun exposure, not diet, is the most important source of vitamin D. In fact, in breastfeeding women, the only vitamin that is given to infants in the winter is vitamin D, as it is not transferred in breast milk. To me that is powerful evidence that God planned us to receive our vitamin D from the sun, not from food.
While the researchers in this study have not measured vitamin D levels, I have seen several hundred patients with rheumatoid arthritis in the last two years, and I have measured their levels. I have yet to analyze the results, but I cannot recall any RA patients who had normal levels of vitamin D. In fact, it is so consistent that I immediately start any new patient who comes in with RA on supplemental vitamin D, in addition to vitamin D in cod liver oil. Everyone starts on cod liver oil, which is a source of both necessary omega-3 fats and vitamin D. But in RA patients I use up to an additional 10,000 units per day on top of the vitamin D in the cod liver oil to bring their levels up.
RA is an autoimmune disease, just like MS, and both conditions are thought to occur when the body's immune system turns against itself. Most all RA patients at this time of year have blood levels of vitamin D below 20. When using vitamin D doses as high as the ones I mentioned above, it is critical to measure vitamin D levels to prevent vitamin D toxicity. Normalizing vitamin D levels, starting omega-3 fats, and eliminating sugar are, without question, the three most important physical elements of normalizing autoimmune diseases like RA and MS.