Topic / Other MS News

The evidence that vitamin D prevents disease progression continues to mount

Researchers from Harvard add more weight to the importance of maintaining a high level of vitamin D after diagnosis with multiple sclerosis.

While many may feel that the case for vitamin D having a protective effect in MS is proven, many doctors are not monitoring the vitamin D levels of PwMS, nor prescribing vitamin D. They remain unconvinced.

This paper adds considerable evidence of the protective effect of vitamin D. Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health analysed data from one of the Betaferon studies, looking at the level of vitamin D in the blood in people recently diagnosed and commencing either the interferon or placebo as part of the BENEFIT randomised controlled trial. There were nearly 500 PwMS in the study, nearly 300 taking the interferon and the remainder placebo.

The results clearly showed that those with a low vitamin D at the outset had much worse disease activity and progression than those with higher vitamin D levels. For every 50 nmol/L increase in vitamin D level at baseline, there was a 57% decrease in new MRI lesions and 57% lower relapse rate, with less brain shrinkage in those with higher levels. Those with higher vitamin D levels also had less disability progression over the subsequent four years. The authors suggested that identifying and correcting low vitamin D levels early in the disease has an important role in the early treatment of MS.

At OMS, we have been saying this for over a decade, and the science is slowly catching up. We of course would go further, and say that the evidence strongly suggests that vitamin D levels should be raised to at least the middle of the normal range (around 150 nmol/L) to provide the best chance of minimising progression. The risks of leaving PwMS with low vitamin D levels far outweigh any perceived risks of any side effects of vitamin D supplementation.

Read paper below

Vitamin D