Higher Vitamin D levels linked to slower progression of Multiple Sclerosis

Patients with high vitamin D levels in the year after the first onset of multiple sclerosis demonstrated, over the next 4 years, much lower levels of MS disease and disability progression than those patients with lower levels of the vitamin. This was the conclusion of Harvard School of Public Health researchers who were following various treatment options for multiple sclerosis in a multi-year study.

The investigation, reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association – Neurology, elicited many comments from healthcare practitioners, mostly in support of adopting Vitamin D supplementation strategies for MS patients. (The research reported in JAMA Neurology did not involve supplementation, only looked at the association between various Vitamin D levels and disease progression.) Here’s one comment, from Marian Evatt, MD:

“This doesn’t surprise me — because of available data on MS and bone health, I’ve been trying to keep MS (and other neurology) patients at 30 ng/mL for a while. So this study won’t change what I do for MS patients. That said, I don’t know how well these kinds of findings have gotten out to the general practice community, so this adds to the body of evidence to support general neurologists and primary care physicians paying attention to vitamin D levels in patients with newly diagnosed MS. Compared with many of my neurology colleagues, I am relatively aggressive about keeping 25OH vitamin D levels replete because there’s plenty of evidence vitamin D interventions work for bone health and fall prevention (issues MS and other neurology patients commonly have).”

From: MedPage Neurology Friday Feedback: Vitamin D — the MS Magic Bullet? Published: Jan 24, 2014

Reference: Ascherio A, et al Vitamin D as an early predictor of multiple sclerosis activity and progression. JAMA Neurol 2014; DOI: 10.1001/jamaneurol.2013.5993.

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