If you have MS it is important that you know about the connection between vitamin D and your health. We include it as a vital step in our OMS 7-step recovery plan and we want as many people to benefit from this information as possible. This is because research has shown that people with MS have lower levels of vitamin D, and also that vitamin D levels are lower during MS relapses. So not only has vitamin D been linked to preventing MS, but for people with MS, vitamin D offers numerous health benefits.
The Benefits of Vitamin D for MS
- Reducing the frequency of MS relapses
- Improving MS symptoms
- Delaying the time it can take from relapsing remitting MS to the secondary progressive phase
- Strengthening the immune system
OMS recommends that your vitamin D level should be above 150nmol/L (60ng/mL in the USA).
OMS recommends people with MS may need to take a daily vitamin D3 supplement, depending on the amount of sun they receive. For those with low levels at first testing, a one-off high dose of vitamin D (such as 600,000 IU), prescribed by a doctor, is recommended.
What is the Coimbra Protocol?
The Coimbra Protocol is a high dose vitamin D treatment that was first discovered by Dr Cicero Galli Coimbra, a professor of Neurology at the Federal University of São Paulo, Brazil.
The dosage of vitamin D is high because people with autoimmune disorders such as MS require higher levels of vitamin D to overcome the resistance to vitamin D that MS will be maintaining. Taking high doses of vitamin D allows the cells and tissues of the body to function optimally.
Coimbra Protocol Side Effects
Whilst it is used as a treatment by many pwMS, it is important to note that the recommendations within the Comibra protocol at present are not backed up by published medical evidence. OMS does not endorse the Coimbra vitamin D doses, and there is the potential for complications from taking very high doses of vitamin D. The information on this page is for reference purposes only. If the evidence base behind vitamin D changes, we will of course adjust our own recommendations accordingly.
How effective is the Coimbra Protocol for treating MS?
The protocol claims to have successfully suppressed disease activity in about 95% of those MS cases treated. Symptoms of MS fatigue are said to start to decline after one month of starting treatment and may continue to improve. It then takes approximately 7–9 months to stop MS progression according to Dr Coimbra’s experience with thousands of patients. Many people with MS claim to have experienced results with the Coimbra Protocol.
The treatment has to be given by a medical professional who has been trained in the Coimbra Protocol — you can’t self-treat with this protocol.
What is the dosage?
The dosage starts at around 1,000 IU per day, per kg of body weight. The dose of vitamin D is then adjusted after two or three months as needed. The dose is adjusted again after a year to compensate for adaptive changes of vitamin D metabolism and a stable level is found. After around two years on vitamin D therapy you will have reached your optimum level of vitamin D.
Different patients will require different doses of vitamin D and at each appointment the person’s parathyroid hormone (PTH) level will be checked via a blood test to adjust the level of vitamin D. This is measured because vitamin D inhibits the production of PTH. PTH cannot be completely suppressed as it has its own important functions within the body, so PTH levels are kept at their lowest normal limit for each individual.
What are the dietary restrictions for the Coimbra Protocol?
While receiving treatment via the Coimbra Protocol, you need to follow strict dietary restrictions.
- Vitamin D helps the absorption of calcium so it is important to avoid dairy foods, nuts and seeds as they are high in calcium. Too much calcium in your blood can lead to hypercalcemia which can create kidney stones, weaken your bones and cause problems with how your brain and heart function.
In addition, the OMS diet strongly recommends that people with MS avoid dairy altogether.
- You must also drink extra fluids, with a minimum of 2.5 litres of water per day to protect your kidneys by flushing your body and avoid excessive calcium in the body.
- You must also limit your alcohol intake (one or two glasses a week is fine) as otherwise the alcohol can interfere with the vitamin D absorption.
Coimbra Protocol supplements
Along with this high dose of vitamin D you will be prescribed other supplements that will help absorption of the vitamin D such as omega-3 DHA, vitamin B2 and magnesium.
The Coimbra protocol prescribes the patients to exercise daily. The intention behind this measure is to minimize the effects of the speeding up of the bone metabolism caused by the high dose of vit. D and avoid loss of bones mass. Those who cannot practice aerobic exercise might be advised to consider medication, such as bisphosphonates, to prevent osteoporosis.