What Vitamin D Might Do for MS Patients

High-dose vitamin D may benefit multiple sclerosis patients

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) A daily dose of vitamin D may do the body good, and that may be especially true for patients with multiple sclerosis (MS).

High-dose vitamin D3 supplements appear safe and may also correct the body's hyperactive immune response in patients with MS, a new study found.

"These results are exciting, as vitamin D has the potential to be an inexpensive, safe and convenient treatment for people with MS," said lead study author Peter A. Calabresi, MD, director of the Multiple Sclerosis Center at Johns Hopkins University, in a press release.

MS is a disease of the central nervous system that disrupts the flow of information within the brain and between the brain and the body. It is thought to be an immune disorder, in which the immune system incorrectly attacks healthy tissues.

MS symptoms include blurred vision, loss of balance, poor coordination, slurred speech, tremors, extreme fatigue, memory problems, paralysis and blindness, among others. These problems often come and go and worsen over time.

Low levels of vitamin D in the blood have been linked to a higher risk of developing MS. Similarly, MS patients with low vitamin D levels are more likely to have greater disability and more disease activity than patients with adequate levels.

For this study, Dr. Calabresi and team looked at 40 patients with relapsing-remitting MS. These patients were given either 10,400 IU or 800 IU of vitamin D3 every day for six months. The current recommended daily vitamin D3 allowance for most people is 600 IU.

Blood samples were taken at the study's start and again after three and six months to measure the amount of vitamin D in the blood and the response of T cells in the immune system. T cells play an important role in MS.

Dr. Calabresi and team found that the patients who took the higher dose had a lower percentage of T cells tied to MS in their bodies. The patients who took the lower dose did not have any changes in their T cells.

Despite these promising findings, researchers said more research is still needed before any recommendations can be made.

This study was published Dec. 30 in the journal Neurology.

The Kenneth and Claudia Silverman Family Foundation, the Montel Williams Foundation and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society funded this research.

Several study authors disclosed ties to companies that make products used in the treatment of MS.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
December 30, 2015
Last Updated:
January 3, 2016