Last year we shared the study results regarding the possible cause of multiple sclerosis (MS), a study conducted by which suggests that “Lack of vitamin D may cause multiple sclerosis“. Dr Benjamin Jacobs, from the Royal National Orthopaedic hospital in London, said: “This study reveals important new evidence of a link between vitamin D deficiency and multiple sclerosis. The results show that if a baby is born with genes associated with vitamin D deficiency they are twice as likely as other babies to develop MS as an adult.
MS occurs when the immune system attacks the protective myelin sheath that surrounds nerve fibres and acts as an insulator. Nerve signals are disrupted, leading to symptoms that can range from mild tingling sensations to full-blown paralysis. In rare cases that progress rapidly, the disease can be fatal.
Vitamin D generated by sunlight is converted in the body into the blood marker 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25OHD). This is then further converted into the active form of the vitamin, calcitriol, which acts as a powerful hormone. 25OHD levels in the blood. Previous studies have suggested an association between lower vitamin D levels and a higher risk of MS. But now scientists have demonstrated a genetic correlation that points strongly to a causal link. The finding provided “strong evidence in support of a causal role of vitamin D in MS susceptibility”, said the scientists. They added: “Whether vitamin D sufficiency can delay or prevent multiple sclerosis onset merits further investigation in long-term randomised controlled trials.”
Prof Danny Altmann, an immunologist from Imperial College London, said: “Vitamin D is relatively cheap, safe and many of us would be all the healthier if we could achieve the serum levels that our ancient ancestors presumably acquired when roaming outdoors in temperate climates, unclothed and eating a diverse diet including oily fish.
Now the current study suggests that a high dose of vitamin D is safe and may be beneficial for patients with multiple sclerosis (MS). “These results are exciting, as vitamin D has the potential to be an inexpensive, safe, and convenient treatment for people with MS,” study author Peter A. Calabresi, M.D. of Johns Hopkins University said in a prepared statement. “More research is needed to confirm these findings with larger groups of people and to help us understand the mechanisms for these effects, but the results are promising.”
The body’s T cell response plays an important role in MS. Researchers tested participant’s blood three times to check the response in the immune system’s T cells and the amount of vitamin D in the blood. Blood tests were administered at the beginning of the study and again after three and six months. According to the study, a dose of vitamin D3 may fix the body’s hyperactive immune response.
The percentage of T cells related to MS activity was reduced in people taking the high dose, while participants taking the low dose saw no changes in T cells. According to a press release, when the increase in vitamin D in the blood was greater than 18 nanograms per milliliter (ng/ml), every 5 ng/ml increase in vitamin D led to a 1 percent decrease in the percentage of interleukin 17 T cells in the blood.
The target level of vitamin D needed to reduce disease activity in MS may be above 50 ng/ml, researchers noted. Participants taking the higher dose reached that target level, but those taking the low dose did not. For the general population, vitamin D levels above 30 ng/ml are considered sufficient.
The study, published online Dec. 30 in Neurology, looked at 40 people with relapsing-remitting MS. Participants either received a high dose of 10,400 IU vitamin D supplements per day, or a lower dose of 800 IU per day for six months. According to the Mayo Clinic, the current recommended daily allowance for vitamin D for people aged 1 to 70 years is 600 IU.