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Vitamin D may slow progression of multiple sclerosis

January 23, 2014

A new international study reports that low blood vitamin D concentrations may be an early predictor of increased multiple sclerosis activity and progression in patients.

The study measured serum concentrations of 25-hydroxyvitamin D and parameters of multiple sclerosis (MS) activity and progression (e.g., number of new active lesions, brain volume, disability status) in 465 patients with early MS who received early or delayed interferon beta-1b treatment for up for five years (1). The study results showed that patients with low vitamin D levels (below 50 nmol/L) early in the disease course showed a significantly increased long-term MS activity and progression compared to patients with higher levels. An increment of 50 nmol/L (20 ng/mL) in average serum 25(OH) D levels within the first 12 months predicted a 57% lower rate of new active lesions and 0.41% lower yearly loss in brain volume.

The researchers concluded that correcting vitamin D deficiency in early MS seems to be very important for the course of disease. They said that these findings, combined with previous evidence that vitamin D defi- ciency is a risk factor for MS, and research on the immunological effects of vitamin D, strongly suggest that maintaining an adequate vitamin D status may be important in the treatment of MS (2). Individuals who present with symptoms suggesting MS should be screened for possible vitamin D deficiency, and this should be corrected by vitamin D supplementation. However, up to this date no study has clearly established whether taking vitamin D supplements helps reduce new symptoms and disability from occurring in people with MS.

References

  1. Ascherio A. et al. Vitamin D as an Early Predictor of Multiple Sclerosis Activity and Progression. JAMA Neurol. Published online January 2014.
  2. Salzer J. et al. Vitamin D and multiple sclerosis: where do we go from here? Expert Rev Neurother. 2014; 14(1):9-18.