- With Mayo Clinic neurologist
Jerry W. Swanson, M.D.read biographyclose window
Jerry W. Swanson, M.D.Jerry W. Swanson, M.D.
Dr. Jerry Swanson is a board-certified neurologist at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. He is also board certified in headache medicine and is a professor of neurology at College of Medicine, Mayo Clinic. He has a special interest in medical education.
Dr. Swanson, a Lacon, Ill., native, was appointed to the Mayo Clinic staff in 1982 and works in the Department of Neurology with more than 90 other physicians. He formerly chaired the department's Division of Headache and continues to work with headache subspecialists around the world. He has published and lectured widely on headache disorders. He also serves as assistant dean for assessment at Mayo Medical School.
"In a manner similar to the printing press, Internet technology enables the unprecedented ability to communicate with the global community about health information," Dr. Swanson says. "There is no doubt that the knowledgeable individual contributes greatly to his or her own health care, and now we can share information much more widely.
"There is much information already available about health care on the Internet. Unfortunately, much of it is not founded on sound principles. It is exciting to be a part of the web team and contribute to the creation of a reliable and timely health resource."
Dr. Swanson is the neurology editor for "Mayo Clinic Family Health Book" and has reviewed articles for "Mayo Clinic Health Letter" and "Mayo Clinic Women's HealthSource." He is also editor-in-chief of the "Mayo Clinic on Headache" book, published in 2004. In 2008 the magazine Women's Health named him one of America's Top Doctors for Women. In 2011 he received the Mayo Medical School Dean's Recognition Award for his contributions to undergraduate medical education.
- Demyelinating disease: What causes it?
- Multiple sclerosis: Can it cause seizures?
Treatments and drugs (1)
- Acetyl-L-carnitine: Can it relieve MS fatigue?
Lifestyle and home remedies (3)
- Is pregnancy safe if you have MS?
- Is there a multiple sclerosis diet?
- Vitamin D and MS: Is there any connection?
Vitamin D and MS: Is there any connection?
Is there any proof that vitamin D supplements can prevent MS or keep symptoms of MS from worsening?
from Jerry W. Swanson, M.D.
A study conducted by researchers at the University of Oxford and another conducted at the New Jersey Medical School have suggested that maintaining adequate levels of vitamin D may have a protective effect and lower the risk of developing multiple sclerosis (MS). Another study conducted at Maastricht University in the Netherlands and others suggest that for people who already have MS, vitamin D may lessen the frequency and severity of their symptoms. More research is needed to assess these findings.
When a person has MS, his or her immune system attacks the coating that protects the nerve cells. Research suggests that a connection between vitamin D and MS could be tied to the positive effects vitamin D has on the immune system.
The link between vitamin D and MS is strengthened by the association between sunlight and the risk of MS. The farther away from the equator a person lives, the higher the risk of MS. Sunlight is the body's most efficient source for vitamin D — suggesting that exposure to sunlight may offer protection from MS.
Screening for vitamin D deficiency is important for African-Americans and other ethnic groups with dark skin, due to decreased natural production of vitamin D from sun exposure.
The Institute of Medicine recommends 600 international units (IUs) of vitamin D a day for adults ages 19 to 70. The recommendation increases to 800 IUs a day for adults age 71 and older.
Some doctors question whether these levels are adequate and think that getting more vitamin D would benefit many people. However, the Institute of Medicine recommends that adults avoid taking more than 4,000 IUs a day.
If you are diagnosed with vitamin D deficiency, it may be appropriate to use up to 50,000 IUs weekly for up to three months until your vitamin D levels become normal, and then switch to a maintenance dose.
Very large doses of vitamin D over an extended period can result in toxicity. Signs and symptoms include nausea, vomiting, constipation, poor appetite, weakness and weight loss. In addition, vitamin D toxicity can lead to elevated levels of calcium in your blood, which can result in kidney stones.
If you're concerned that you're getting too little — or too much — vitamin D, talk with your doctor about what's right for you.Next question
Demyelinating disease: What causes it?
- Raghuwanshi A, et al. Vitamin D and multiple sclerosis. Journal of Cell Biochemistry. 2008;105:338.
- Ramagopalan SV, et al. Expression of the multiple sclerosis-associated MHC class II allele HLA-DRB1*1501 is regulated by vitamin D. PLoS Genetics. 2009;5:e1000369. http://www.plosgenetics.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pgen.1000369. Accessed July 26, 2010.
- Pierrot-Deseilligny C. Clinical implications of a possible role of vitamin D in multiple sclerosis. Journal of Neurology. 2009;256:1468.
- Smolders J, et al. Vitamin D status is positively correlated with regulatory T cell function in patients with multiple sclerosis. PLoS One. 2009;4:e6635. http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0006635. Accessed Mar. 1, 2013.
- Dietary supplement fact sheet: Vitamin D. Office of Dietary Supplements. http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-HealthProfessional/?print=1. Accessed Mar. 1, 2013.
- Dietary Reference Intakes for calcium and vitamin D. Institute of Medicine. http://www.iom.edu/Reports/2010/Dietary-Reference-Intakes-for-Calcium-and-Vitamin-D.aspx. Accessed Mar. 1, 2013.
- Vitamin D. The Merck manuals: The Merck Manual for Healthcare Professionals. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/nutritional_disorders/vitamin_deficiency_dependency_and_toxicity/vitamin_d.html?qt=&sc=&alt=. Accessed Mar. 1, 2013.
- Weinstock-Guttman B, et al. Vitamin D and multiple sclerosis. The Neurologist. 2012;18:179.