International ME/CFS and FM Awareness Day Is On May 12, 2018
Thomas Hennessy, Jr., selected May 12th to be our international awareness day back in 1992. He knew that May 12th had also been the birthday of Florence Nightingale. She was the English army nurse who helped to found the Red Cross as well as the first school of nursing in the world.
Discuss the article on the Forums.

The Times: Vitamin D boost for all 'will treat national health shame' and CFS/ME

Discussion in 'General ME/CFS News' started by Firestormm, Feb 12, 2012.

  1. Firestormm


    Cornwall England
    Vitamin D boost for all will treat national health shame, The Times, 4 February 2012

    by Tony Britton on February 12, 2012:

    Lack of sunshine is blamed for chronic illnesses, reports Lindsay McIntosh

    A new warning about vitamin D deficiency has reignited the debate about its link to the appalling health record in Scotland.

    Sir Harry Burns, Scotlands Chief Medical Officer, and his opposite numbers in Northern Ireland, Wales and England, have written to health professionals to reiterate advice about the sunshine vitamin for groups such as pensioners and pregnant women.

    However, experts have told The Times that the guidance does not go far enough and that the time has come for a national vitamin D programme for the general population in Scotland to help combat conditions such as multiple sclerosis (MS), myalgic encephalopathy (ME) and osteoporosis.

    A detailed article commissioned by The Times and carried online today, by Professor George Ebers, from the Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurology at the University for Oxford, highlights the connection between high incidence of MS and the absence of sunshine, particularly in the West of Scotland. He urges the Scottish government to take action, arguing that the cost of treating MS is far greater than that of prescribing vitamin D.

    I calculate that the cost of treating MS over the past six years has cost Scotland some 6 billion, he writes. Supplementing the entire population with dirt-cheap vitamin D is trivial by comparison, roughly one weeks worth of accumulating MS cases.

    As The Times has reported, a shortage of vitamin D has been established as a factor in the countrys higher rates of MS, diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis, several types of cancer, cardiovascular diseases and other ailments. Together they give Scotland one of the worst health records in Western Europe.

    It is more than three years since Oliver Gillie, a scientist and writer, unveiled his research, Scotlands Health Deficit: An Explanation and a Plan, showing extensive parallels between Scotlands dull weather and indices of disease. High rainfalls and lack of sunshine in Glasgow and the West of Scotland reflects levels of chronic illness there that cannot be explained by deprivation or smoking. Lack of sunshine in Orkney and Shetland corresponds to the highest prevalence of MS in the world.

    By contrast, the South Coast of England, where such diseases are less common, receives 400 more hours of sunshine a year than Scotland. Even Durham, close to the same latitude as Glasgow, receives 50 per cent more sun.

    However, yesterdays letter, sent to GPs, practice nurses, health visitors and community pharmacists, merely sets out a reminder of existing recommendations, which include that pregnant and breast-feeding women should take a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms of vitamin D and that children aged six month to five years should take drops.

    There is also advice to those aged 65 years and over, and those who are not exposed to much sun, to take a daily supplement containing ten micrograms. The letter also concedes that up to a quarter of people in the UK have low levels of vitamin D in their blood, which means they are at risk of the clinical consequences of vitamin D deficiency.

    Supplements slow progress of MS | by Lindsay McIntosh

    It is barely 2pm but already it is half-dark and sleet is tipping down in the shopping centre car park near Glasgow. At one end, there is a health clinic glowing with light. Inside, Dr Tom Gilhooly and his colleagues are dispensing vitamin D to patients struggling with condition such as MS and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), which are linked to a lack of the supplement.

    Most people are deficient in Scotland, he says. And today is a good example of why. We dont get a lot of penetrative sunlight.

    In climes more tropical than Rutherglen, the Lanarkshire town where Dr Gilhoolys clinic is located, the skin can produce 20,000 international units (IUD) in 20 minutes.

    In the UK, official recommendations suggest a daily allowance of about 400 IUD. Dr Gilhooly describes it as a gross underestimate, which should be closer to 5,000 IUD in Scotland.

    Dr Gilhooly, a GP, set up the Essential Health clinic because he wanted to treated patients without traditional drugs. He began by looking at vitamin D, as well as omega-3. Vitamin D is hugely deficient in the population. If you correct that, then you can reassess and say, Do you still need treatment or have your symptoms gone away?

    Maggie Gilchrists CFS, also known as ME, was making her job as a nursery school head teacher almost untenable when she turned up at Dr Gilhoolys surgery three years ago. She had tried everything, including faith healing, to find relief.

    Dr Gilhooly put her on the immune system-boosting drug Low Dose Naltrexone and sent her to have her vitamin D level tested. At about 30, it was not low enough for the NHS routinely to prescribe a supplement, but Dr Gilhooly told her to take enough to raise it to about 100.

    I am a completely different person, said says. My staff couldnt believe the difference.

    She tells everyone she knows to take vitamin D because in this part of the world our light is so much lower than even down in the South of England.

    Dr Gilhooly, too, believes there is a very strong argument for it being taken by everyone.

    Another patient John Hinshelwood, has a family history of disease that can be linked to low vitamin D. Then, the year he turned 50, he had primary progressive multiple sclerosis diagnosed.

    Patients with primary progressive MS, unlike those with the more common form, do not have good and bad days but get gradually worse. However, for Mr Hinshelwood, from East Renfrewshire, the decline has been slow. He is still able to walk short distances on his own, seven years on. He puts his relatively good health down to the action he has taken. There seems to be a link between low vitamin D and MS, he said.

    Now he and his wife, Anne, 56, both take supplements. While he believes his decline has been halted, his wife is more pragmatic. What I think is, would it have been a lot faster if he hadnt been doing these things, she says. Mr Hinshelwood believes vitamin D should be prescribed more widely like fluoride in water.

    Problems cannot be ignored | Commentary by Professor George Ebers

    It takes courage and vision to roll out a national health programme. But if it helps to save lives, that is what any self-respecting government needs to consider. As my report argues today, research closely links the severely low levels of vitamin D in the Scottish population to its high incidences of multiple sclerosis. Knowledgeable doctors are prescribing vitamin D to patients suffering a whole range of diseases.

    Hitherto, blame has been placed on poor diet, lack of exercise, excessive drinking and smoking. Of course, all of these contribute to Scotlands appalling health record. But that is not the whole story, as the research now demonstrates. The lack of sunshine, an increasingly indoors lifestyle and constant warnings about over-exposure to the sun have all contributed to levels of vitamin D that are alarmingly low.

    Other countries have taken action to tackle a health problem. The US virtually eliminated neural tube defects (spin bifida and other diseases) by prescribing vitamins. Scotland could do the same. But it will take courage and vision.

    The Scottish government has failed to respond to recommendations from experts to supplement the population in favour of feeble recommendations of supplements to dark-skinned people and already pregnant women. (In)action seems to ignore lessons already learnt, implying this is now all about compliance rather than disagreement in principle.

    For neural tube defects it proved, in the end, crucial that folate sufficiency was in place at the time of conception and waiting until newly pregnant women came to doctors surgeries was too late. Giving vitamin D supplements to all Scots now seems the most prudent course of action.

    Professor Ebers article appears in full on the online edition of The Times.
  2. taniaaust1

    taniaaust1 Senior Member

    Sth Australia
    Thou I do now have a very bad vitamin D deficiency, Im going to say what crap. When I relapsed back into ME I was getting a lot of sun as I was not just working as a housecleaner but also working as a gardener.

    If vitamin D was to blame, this illness would be mostly affecting the elderly who are far less in the sun. Quotes like that make me wonder where peoples common sense has got to.
  3. Calathea

    Calathea Senior Member

    *perks up* Someone is offering low-dose naltrexone in Scotland?

    Considering how little time people spend outdoors these days, I doubt that the amount of sunshine makes much difference. The Scottish diet and lifestyle is a huge factor. I'd be surprised if you can isolate such minor elements next to it. Incidentally, anyone given to eating an appalling diet and smoking and drinking like crazy is highly unlikely to take vitamin supplements, for cultural reasons if nothing else. The ones who worry about vitamin supplements are generally at lower risk anyway because they're already on a healthier lifestyle. And then you get those of us who are fretting about supplements because we're ill, and that's an entirely different story.

    I do wish someone would let the media know that the plural of anecdote is not data. I'm delighted that the woman they mentioned experienced such an improvement, but what we need is proper clinical evidence. If you're talking anecdotes, then I can easily counteract that one with my own experience. I came out as low in Vit D when tested, was put on Vit D supplements by the doctor, and have never noticed the slightest bit of difference as a result.
  4. orion

    orion Senior Member

    Agreed. It would also mean that ME was more common amongst people who lived in higher latitudes which, as far as I know, isn't the case (unlike with MS).
  5. Firestormm


    Cornwall England
    I wonder if 'we' simply cannot absorb it naturally in enough quantity? I don't know. Personally I have never been advised to take Vit D as a supplement although I am now after all this coverage of late. I figure it can't do any harm and I don't get out very much at all because of this condition.
  6. Marco

    Marco Grrrrrrr!

    Near Cognac, France
    As someone who moved from one of the least sunny regions of the UK to one of the sunniest in France I can safely say (anecdotally) that sunlight exposure has made absolutely no difference to me.

    Which of course doesn't rule out a problem with synthesis?

    I also wonder why she didn't suspect the low dose naltrexose migh be the key?
  7. Enid

    Enid Senior Member

    Pathetic these supposed medical experts (journalists) - what discoveries they claim. Actually read them them daily and you are popping around from one thing to the next.

    But hope some sun your way Marco now in this European chill - just common sense from my old Granny. !
  8. November Girl

    November Girl Senior Member

    statistical correlation between MS & latitude - an my own experience with Vit D3

    MS is far more prevalent in areas that receive less sunlight. I don't know the numbers, but remember that it was significant. Of course that doesn't prove cause and effect.

    As for me, I started taking Vit D3 about 3 years ago. I took 2,000 iu for awhile, then raised it to 10,000. I do have levels tested each year. I don't know what my blood levels were before I started this, but now this very high dose keeps me in the high end of the normal range.

    It didn't cure me, but it did help. I wish I remembered more details. My constant thirst diminished a lot. I surmise that my blood volume also improved somewhat. What I remember thinking after a few months was that nearly all of my symptoms had dropped down a notch. Fortunately this is an inexpensive supplement. I buy the 5,000 iu version from I haven't seen that dose in the stores.
  9. SilverbladeTE

    SilverbladeTE Senior Member

    Somewhere near Glasgow, Scotland
    1) Yes, low sunlight = higher risk of MS, and Scotland's about the highest incidence of it (Mum's pal's almost totlaly paralyzed by MS, sigh)
    it is NOT bloody linked to ME though, O M F G!!
    anything to have this disease ""put back in the closet" and hide the horror that's going on, grrr. :/

    2) The studies on MS/Scotland etc have already accounted for our bad lifestyles, so yes, low sunlight is an issue

    Durham? bollocks, Glasgow's on same lattitude as MOSCOW, thing is though, because of way Gulf Stream, air currents etc go, we've got extremely damp/cloudy weather.
    We often get "freezing fogs" in winter as one consequence of such, and OMG I hate those, blech
    yes you can have fog at below zero temperatures for those lucky enough not to have experienced such, we've had two brutal Winters last year and on previous, last year, in my town, we had a freezing fog at noon, -15C, visibility 30 yards, lasted about three days. Nothing short of a -30 C blizzard and 70+mph winds can suck the warmth out of you liek a freezing fog can, gawd damn horrible.

    3) The one thing these assholes KEEP overlooking is the vast amount of industrial pollution here, it's too "inconvenient"
    Industrial Scotland was like something out of a Dickenisan nightmare.
    My town the scumbags let them build a vast steelworks right beside the town, no seperation, every morning, white cars would be pink from coating of the filth belched out form the metal sintering and coking plants. They tried to plant an area of trees at back of the plant, they all died, vast cone about 3/4 mile long nothing but stunted yellow grass could live downwind of prevailing wind.
    They spent 100 million to clean the site up and now are going to build a new town on it....BASTARDS!!!
    yes, most of the heavy metal poisoned earth, 680000 tons of it, is now buried in an artificial hill with safety features, but they keep finding more poisoned patches and what scum would put houses with kids on such land?
    THis town's been here for centuries church is over 900 years, in time, the safety measures will fail, it's HEAVY METALS, they never degrade.
    Then there's ex-factory sites where they had radium/phosphorous for clock/instrument dials they had to get the I.A.E.A. to help clean up, close to a primary (infant) school
    etc etc...

    in otherwords, lot of Industrial Scotland's health woes will be linked to exposure to heavy metals, asbestos, radioactive poions, PCBs etc.
    We were the "CHinese migrant labourers" or other such like poor sods of today, the British f***** Empire of past used as near slaves.
    So they didn't care if we died in droves or they left the land poisoned.
    And NO, the problem wasn't the "English", though of course some of those responsible were, but the vast majority of the problem were the Scottish lords/high muckamucks, who condemned their fellows to work in barbaric conditions, so they could live in actual *%$*! PALACES!!

    4) And what these assclowns are also missing out, is the EPIGENETIC effects of the terrible abuse/strains etc our people have went through.
    Scots, especially Highlanders ued to be the tallest people in Europe, but the deprivation of the "colonial/slavelabour" style of crap that went on, Highland Clearances, mass immigration of Irish escaping the Famine who got crammed into slums and both sides set against each other ot force wages down and thus keep folk in privation etc etc...
    all that had terrible long term effect on public health here, stress/abuse folk suffer can affect their offspring, see "epigenetics".
    hence, the folk around Glasgow/Lanarkshire are so short now, I was tall at 5' 11", average height was about 5' 3" to 5' 5"!
    Thus our local regiment was nicknamed "The Poison Dwarves" by the Kaiser himself in World War 1, lol

    pic of the slums folk lived in, the infamous "Gorbals" in Glasgow, 1800s


    They are avoiding the fact that those "high muckamucks" robbed and poisoned and left this land crippled.
    Health, drugs problems? NO GAWD DAMN WONDER, YOU SELF RIGHTEOUS ASSHOLES!! *he says to our Lords And Masters of today*

    jeesh, sorry for rant, but it's always easy to say "take a pill!", and *profitable*, rather than sort things out right :/
    alkt likes this.
  10. justy

    justy Donate Advocate Demonstrate

    I think the rancour aimed at the journalists in this thread is somewhat undeserved. I posted a thread, not long ago, that showed a number of studies done in Scotland that showed a very definate correlation between Vit D deficiency and the increase in incidence of M.S. This link has more or less been proven now. I'm not saying its the same for M.E, but Vit D may be an issue for some (perhaps atypical MS types)
    My cognitive function has been helped enormously by Vit D, but it must be D3 and you have to take it in high doses - about 2-5,000 iu a day.
    I was also working as a gardener and living in the south of England when i first got ill, so i dont see a definate correlation for me, But its unfair to start jibing at journalists when they ARE actually reporting real biomedical evidence, which is something we all keep saying we want!
    Firestormm and anne_likes_red like this.
  11. Mog


    The recent stuff about Vitamin D in Scotland in the media seems to have concentrated on how we all need it and we should add it to the water or put it in food. Nothing about actually testing people to see if they need it or not. I asked my doctor if I could get tested for it, and he refused, saying that "everyone" in Scotland would be deficient so there would be no need to test for deficiency. How very scientific. (And nice that he wasn't at all interested to see if Vit D deficiency had anything to do with my ME symptoms...) If they're suggesting all Scots should start supplementing with Vit D, wouldn't it perhaps be wise to check your levels first and at regular intervals to see whether they are increasing or not?
  12. Sallysblooms

    Sallysblooms P.O.T.S. now SO MUCH BETTER!

    Southern USA
    This has all been known a while. Vit D is needed For the immune system and so many reasons. The MS connection was made already. So easy to check the level, every country should do that, b12 and other things yearly to keep the people well. So easy when you get the usually blood tests each year. Prevention is something some countries don't seem to understand yet.
  13. Calathea

    Calathea Senior Member

    Something else just occurred to me about my spectacular lack of improvement on prescribed Vit D. Perhaps the form they're prescribing is insufficient in some way? My GP is meaning to test me again to see how my D levels are doing now, but I don't think she's got around to it yet.
  14. Desdinova

    Desdinova Senior Member

    The problem with initiatives like this is somewhere between selling it to the general public and rolling out a program to implement it, they somehow become a certain cure or treatment. It also seems silly to me to even think that those afflicted with MS and ME especially for any decent length of time haven't already checked for vitamin, mineral and other nutritional deficiencies. Good ideas like CBT sold as copping therapy and GET sold as safe (easy does it) stretching and exercise we've seen how that turned out.
  15. Mog


    You may well be right Calathea. What kind is it you're prescribed? I'm not sure but I think it may be D2 that they prescribe, for reasons of economy, no doubt, but D3 is much better or more easily absorbed or generally superior. I'm not an expert but from what I've read, D3 Cholecalciferol is the best kind. I don't know if you can get it prescribed or not, would be interesting to know if you could, but it is easily available to buy.
  16. Calathea

    Calathea Senior Member

    I had already been on D2 without any success when they tested me and found my levels were low. I was put onto Adcal D3, which contains 1500mg calcium carbonate and 400iu D3 per chewable tablet. I'm meant to take two tablets per day.
  17. Chris

    Chris Senior Member

    Victoria, BC
    Hi, Calathea--sounds like too much calcium and too little D3 to me; anyone taking high doses of calcium should also take magnesium and vitamin K2. Stephanie Seneff (very smart, she has a blog worth reading) has produced interesting research showing that the Vit D we ingest is not quite the same as the Vit D we make in our skin in response to UVB; I have bought a UV lamp that gives both UVA and B and I think it is going to help raise my rather low D levels, and do other good things too--I hope. Chris
  18. Waverunner

    Waverunner Senior Member

    The questions no one in this article addresses are:

    1) Does Vitamin D have a beneficial influence on all PWCs? The Marshal protocol claims the opposite. What I can tell for sure is that Vitamin D ramps up my Th2 response and this is not very beneficial. The Vitamin D receptor is implicated with allergies. We still don't know why in some people it has a positive effect and in others a negative.

    2) If low Vitamin D plays such an important role in CFS, most people should be healthy by now because I know a lot of people who supplement Vitamin D in huge amounts. The rate of CFS should be lower in California and Florida compared to Canada.

    3) If vitamin D is so beneficial to all of us then the people in Brazil should live the longest while people in Finland should die a lot sooner.

    I don't know if ME/CFS consists of several different diseases that all cause fatigue but what I do know is that a scientifically accepted cause has not been found yet so I highly doubt that we cure it with some standard supplements.
    Ocean likes this.
  19. Calathea

    Calathea Senior Member

    Chris - I did wonder, but what do I say to the doctor who prescribed it? It's probably the standard prescribed drug to treat low Vit D in the UK. I do take quite a bit of magnesium, by the way, but I'm not taking any extra Vit K.
  20. rlc

    rlc Senior Member

    Hi calathea RE I had already been on D2 without any success when they tested me and found my levels were low. I was put onto Adcal D3, which contains 1500mg calcium carbonate and 400iu D3 per chewable tablet. I'm meant to take two tablets per day.
    The amount of vitamin D you are being prescribed is way too low to achieve anything; it isnt enough to sustain vitamin D levels let alone raise them. And it has to be D3!

    The medical profession has based its ideas on what vitamin D levels should be and what levels of treatment should be given, on the fact that vitamin D is needed to absorb calcium, and at very high levels of deficiency this lead to weak bones, osteoporosis, rickets, however this is a very late sign of exceedingly low vitamin D deficiency. New research has shown that human vitamin D levels should be way higher than previously thought, and that serious symptoms like chronic fatigue, muscle pain, depression, impaired immune system etc, start at levels way higher then have previously been the recommended level. Unfortunately the medical community has done nothing about this research and labs are still using the out of date reference ranges and most doctors still prescribe way to small amounts of Vitamin D.

    Most of the medical profession is still working on the basis that levels of 30 ng/ml (75nmol/L) is enough, recent research shows that the minimum levels that people should have 50 ng/mL (125 nmol/L), Drs who know what they are doing will treat with 50,000 iu of D3 regularly until optimum levels are achieved, the vitamin D council recommends 10,000 iu a day until the right levels are achieved, this may seem like a lot, but when you consider that 10 to 15 minutes of full body exposure to the sun gives 10 to 15 thousand IU, you can see that it is really that much. If taking large amounts of vitamin D, Calcium levels should be monitored to make sure that they dont raise to high, which can happen in people taking massive amounts. Theres lots of information on this site

    The bit about co factors on the site is also an important read it explain how without enough magnesium you cant absorb vit D etc and there is another good article here

    Maybe if you have a good doctor they would be open to reading this information

    I hope getting your vitamin D levels to the correct levels makes a big difference for you, it certainly has for me.

    All the best

See more popular forum discussions.

Share This Page