March 16, 2016

Director's Letter 
Carole Baggerly 
Director, GrassrootsHealth 

The amount of material the major multiple sclerosis organizations have on vitamin D, latitude and MS is colossal. MS organizations are funding research, but it may not adequately represent vitamin D's potential. Many studies include bolus dosing, instead of the daily dosing necessary to boost the immune system. Every study measures 25(OH)D, but they are still grouping results based on input groups (i.e. 1000 IU/day) and not by vitamin D level. Many of these studies are scared to dose with "toxic" levels of vitamin D, and as Dr. Coimbra points out - MS patients seem to be resistant to processing vitamin D. Many of the trials will not elicit a big enough change in vitamin D status to effect a change in health status.

But... using our HYLION methodology we could change that. We could do a population-study on the groups that are taking high levels of vitamin D with success. How is it working? Are the patients still relapsing? Is their mobility and pain improving? Is their calcium too high? Too low? 

My hope is that by this time next year we can report on a study, which will have been funded by a major MS organization, showing the efficacy of vitamin D and MS. Perhaps even, as Dr. Garland says in his editorial below, a new standard of care for healthy children - to prevent MS - or as the National MS Society says - "a world free of MS."


Carole Baggerly 
Director, GrassrootsHealth 
A Public Health Promotion & Research Organization 
Moving Research into Practice NOW!
Editorial: An Epidemiologist's Perspective

Cedric F. Garland, Dr PH FACE
   UC San Diego School of Medicine
When I was 10, I had a friend who was a terrific playmate and fellow canyon explorer. We'll call him Tom. He had a suspicious streak in him. He told me he thought that doctors knew how to prevent cancer and other diseases, but were not disclosing this to the public. I did not believe his ideas on this topic. I discounted Tom as a young fanatic, a conspiracy theorist. 
For about 20 years we have known that sunlight deficiency is the main cause of a terrible and progressive, ultimately disabling disease. People who grow up in Seattle have 10 times the incidence of the disease as people who grow up in San Diego. This applies across the globe - the higher the latitude, the higher the MS incidence rate. It is a law of nature and disease and has been shown through many epidemiological studies (see sidebar).


There are a few exceptions, but they are tiny. One is a highly inbred population, such as that of Sardinia. This island is 190 miles west of the coast of Italy, 14 hours by boat. It is extremely isolated and was settled in the Stone Age. Its population grew without access to a large gene pool, and interbreeding inevitably occurred. 
Interbreeding is common in isolated island populations. When it is extreme, it causes diseases. This is well-known as a founder effect. So the main exception to the latitude rule can be readily explained. Still it is often mentioned by skeptics as an exception to the latitude rule. They say this exception proves sunlight does not prevent MS. 
Sunlight is not high-tech. It can't be patented. It does not require the complicated new technology of genetics of the genome. As a result there is no money in it, only the ability to prevent disease. Even the main product of being in the sun, vitamin D3, cannot be patented. Any hope to patent D3 ended many decades ago and cannot be renewed.

We know that sunlight, and probably vitamin D3, prevent MS beyond any reasonable doubt. Raising serum 25(OH)D to 40-60 ng/ml maintains a barrier that protects myelin sheath cells that surround nerve cells from viral invasion and autoimmunity. Sadly, though, virtually no one is taking any action based on this important scientific discovery. Pediatricians should get mothers and their children to seek daily noontime sunlight exposure for children, for about 10-15 minutes, but it is not part of their standard of care. They weigh a child, measure its length or height, check a growth chart and give immunizations. It takes time to get a history of sun exposure of a child, and it takes more time to explain why getting sunlight every day is necessary to prevent MS. Third parties do not pay for counseling about the importance of sunlight.

"Raising serum 25(OH)D to 40-60 ng/ml maintains a barrier that protects myelin sheath cells that surround nerve cells from viral invasion and autoimmunity." - Dr. Cedric Garland

When I realized this, I contacted the Multiple Sclerosis Society headquarters a few years ago and explained to their representative that MS is almost 100% preventable. They said they were not interested. The representative informed me that they were heavily invested in a mouse model of MS known as the shaky mouse. They said they were making good progress with the shaky mouse, and that they were not interested in mounting a program to prevent MS by restoring adequate exposure to sunlight and higher concentrations of vitamin D. They also mentioned that most of their members already had MS or had a relative or friend who had it, and just would not be interested in prevention. Prevention is not of much use for fundraising. It was a total cool brush-off. 

I finally realized that we scientists, and a minority of progressive informed doctors, know exactly how to prevent 100% of incidence of a progressive, destructive, demoralizing disease, but we are doing nothing to act on this scientific discovery. This realization hit me recently - there is no organized constituency for preventing bad diseases. There hasn't been any constituency at all. Nobody has cared enough to organize this.

Thousands of new cases of MS have occured each year and nothing has been done at all to prevent it. It has been, simply put, a scandal.

Now, I am delighted to be part of the only organization I know that is using the information we already have to fight for the prevention of MS, namely GrassrootsHealth.

More power to GrassrootsHealth! The same organization that is working so hard to prevent cancer and premature births with vitamin D is also the organization with a program in the works to prevent MS with vitamin D. And I hope they will. It is amazing what a small group of people can do to conquer a terrible disease. It is happening with GrassrootsHealth. 
My boyhood friend Tom was right after all. I will have to find him and apologize for disbelieving his theory. Doctors and medical scientists know how to prevent MS and have been doing nothing--until now. 
About Dr. Garland
Dr. Cedric Garland Dr. Garland joined the Epidemiology Division in the Department of Family Medicine and Public Health at the University of California, San Diego in 1980 and is currently Professor Emeritus. Garland's research program of 35 years has focused on discovering the causes of cancer and helping advance understanding of the causes and prevention of type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Garland and his colleagues were among the first scientists to discover that passive smoking causes ischemic heart disease (heart attacks), a finding that led to banning smoking in restaurants in California. He has taught in the core epidemiology track for medical students as well as public health and preventive medicine electives. He also trains and serves as a mentor for doctoral students. His recent work with colleague Dr. Edward D. Gorham and others shows that a high concentration of a vitamin D metabolite, 25-hydroxyvitamin D, in the serum is associated with substantially lower incidence of colorectal and postmenopausal breast cancers, as well as type 1 and type 2 diabetes. 
Garland is confident that improvements in vitamin D status, resulting from higher dosages than are common at present, will lead to the eradication of colorectal cancer and type 1 diabetes, and greatly reduce or eradicate  the incidence and mortality of 11 cancers including postmenopausal breast cancer, brain tumors, and adult forms of leukemia. 
What is the temperature of MS organizations and research institutes?

On the side are links to a myriad of national and international MS societies. 

These societies are committed to educating and helping those with MS and eradicating MS in the future.

"Our vision is bold: A world free of MS." - National Multiple Sclerosis Society

One very promising point for all of these societies is that they all seem to have a lot of information on vitamin D and MS. If you go to their web page and enter into the search bar "vitamin D" you will get news articles on recent research, and a dedicated web page which explains vitamin D as it relates to MS, the correlation of latitude and MS prevalence, and possibly the research they are funding. Here is a good example from the Multiple Sclerosis Society (UK).

The bottom line for most of these organizations is caution. They cite different studies with data correlating positive results but call for more RCTs, more data before any recommendations can be made. Most organizations still support the governmental guidelines which state you get enough vitamin D from food and sun and/or take 600-800 IU/day. And all of the vitamin D pages end with a caution to talk to your doctor before starting any supplement regimen.

Many of the organizations shy away from incidence rates of MS (the number of new diagnosis per year per 100,000 people) citing the lack of government oversight and the difficulty of MS diagnosis. The one exception is The MS International Federation who did a complete study in 2013 (and in 2009). It has very interesting worldwide statistics on MS and does confirm the correlation of latitude and MS incidence (the number of people per 100,000 diagnosed with the disease).

There are many ongoing trials on vitamin D and MS currently. The real question is whether these trials are using the correct criteria for nutrient research as outlined by our research director, Dr. Robert Heaney (table below).

Editor's Letter
Susan Siljander
Marketing Director, GrassrootsHealth

It continues to be enlightening to study MS and vitamin D. This week I learned about the connection to the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). But, in looking for the proper latitude picture, I also know without a shadow of a doubt that vitamin D in childhood could prevent MS.

Dr. Garland says it very eloquently and it hit home with me, as I have three young children. Never, in the years of regular check-ups, did the doctor ask me if my children were getting adequate sun. Instead, and I will enclose a wonderful picture of one of my fair-skinned children, I would get lectures about lack of sunscreen use. What if every child between the ages of birth to five years old went outside with their mother at noon for 10-20 min of sunbathing during the warm seasons? Think about the benefits to both child and mother, the relaxation and bonding time... what if...

Let's continue to spread the word! You could prevent MS for a whole slew of people by sharing this newsletter on Facebook or forwarding this email. We are still running our special, less than $50 for a home vitamin D test, through March. I bet many of the children you know in your life would be better served to know their vitamin D level. Chances are it is very low. What if you then shared this news - and our disease incidence prevention chart - that explains the recommended 40-60 ng/ml? 

Let's start with our family and friends, NOW!

Susan Siljander
Marketing Director, GrassrootsHealth
A Public Health Promotion & Research Organization
Moving Research Into Practice NOW!

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Your participation in this project provides information for your answers to D questions and helps fund the GrassrootsHealth projects.

How do you treat your condition with vitamin D?

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We will summarize the results in a future newsletter.

Research Papers

The Prevalence of Multiple Sclerosis in 3 US Communities
Curtis W. Noonan, PhD, et al.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Tracked MS prevalence in 3 different latitudes - higher prevalence the farther away from the equator
January 2010

Latitude is significantly associated with the prevalence of multiple sclerosis: a meta-analysis

Steve Simpson Jr., et al.
University of Tasmania, Australia
Comprehensive global review of MS prevalence showed association with latitude
October 2011

Vitamin D Status During Pregnancy and Risk of Multiple Sclerosis in Offspring of Women in the Finnish Maternity Cohort

Kassandra L. Munger, ScD, et al.
Harvard School of Public Health
 Maternal vitamin D deficiency during early pregnancy was associated with a nearly 2-fold increased risk of MS in the offspring
March 2016

High-dose vitamin D supplementation reduces IL-17-producing CD4+ T-cells and effector-memory CD4+ T-cells in
multiple sclerosis patients
Pavan Bhargava, MD, et al.
Johns Hopkins University
RCT study taking 10,400 IU/day vs. 800 IU/day for current MS patients - treatment group reduced IL-17 producing CD4+ T-cells and CD4+ Tem cells
April 2015

Sun exposure and vitamin D are independent risk factors for CNS demyelination
R.M. Lucas, PhD, et al.
The Australian National University, Canberra
Sun exposure and vitamin D status may help protect against MS
February 2011
Participant Web Sites

Patients Like Me
Almost 50,000 MS members
Go to web site

MS members community for research purposes

Shift MS
Social network for people with MS
Go to web site

Web site dedicated to maintaining an active lifestyle with MS

Ebstein-Barr Virus and MS

There is evidence that the causal chain leading to MS includes a phase of infection by the Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) years before diagnosis. EBV infections are more common in people who have low serum 25(OH)D. A group of researchers believe immunization against EBV may help eradicate MS.  

ResearchSpeak: Preventing MS by vaccinating against EBV
Presentation at ECTRIMS
European Committee for Treatment and Research in MS
Gavin Giovannoni, MBBCh, PhD, FCP, FRCP, FRCPath
Blizzard Institute, London School of Medicine
March 7, 2016

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