Scientists have uncovered more evidence linking vitamin D levels to multiple sclerosis.
Last year, Harvard School of Public Health researchers published a study that suggests that the vitamin may slow the progression of the disease among patients in the early stages of MS. The new research, published online in JAMA Neurology, showed that among MS patients with the relapsing-remitting form of the disease treated with interferon (a drug that reduces the frequency of the relapses) those with higher levels of D had lower rates of MS activity.
Along with other recent research, the study provides “crucial complementary evidence” of the importance of correcting vitamin D deficiency in patients with MS and in helping to identify the optimal level of this vitamin, lead author Kathryn Fitzgerald, PhD, postdoctoral research fellow, Department of Nutrition, School of Public Health, Harvard University, Boston, Massachusetts.
The researchers analyzed data collected from 1,456 patients involved in Bayer’s Betaferon Efficacy Yielding Outcomes of a New Dose (BEYOND) trial, a large, phase 3 prospective blinded randomized trial with two types of interferon. Patients were monitored for at least two years, with clinic visits with MRIs every three months. MRIs reveal the lesions on the protective covering of nerves that are caused by MS.
The number of new active lesions among patients was “significantly” inversely correlated to their vitamin D levels. Those with higher levels of D had a 31 percent lower rate of new lesions.