Vitamin D Supplements May Help Lower Symptoms In MS Patients

First Posted: Jan 02, 2016 07:00 PM EST

Health officials still aren't certain what causes multiple sclerosis (MS)--a disease in which the immune system eats away at the body's protective covering of nerves. However, they do know that a combination of genetic and environmental factors seem to influence the health issue; one genetic factor being that some with the autoimmune disease show lower blood levels of vitamin D.

New findings published in the journal Neurology showed that patients who received high-dose supplements of vitamin D had reduced levels of inflammation related to the disease when compared to counterparts who received lower dose vitamin D supplements.

"These results are exciting, as vitamin D has the potential to be an inexpensive, safe and convenient treatment for people with MS," said Dr. Peter Calabresi, director of the Johns Hopkins Multiple Sclerosis Center, in a news release.

During the study, researchers recruited 40 patients with relapsing-remitting MS (the most common form of the autoimmune disease) for a double-blind, randomized study. They gave them either 10,400 international units or 800 international units of cholecalciferol--a form of vitamin D every day over a six-month period. Researchers then checked the patient's vitamin D levels at the start of the study, the halfway point and then at the end.

Previous studies show that vitamin D can help decrease MS-related symptoms and slow the progression of the disease, which currently has no cure.

Findings revealed that patients given the higher dose showed a reduction in inflammatory T cells related to MS. Those given the lower dose supplements, on the other hand, showed no noticeable changes. 

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