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Vitamin D May Slow Multiple Sclerosis

Update Date: Jan 20, 2014 05:58 PM EST

Vitamin D supplements may slow the progression of multiple sclerosis, according to a new study.

Researchers examined blood concentration of f 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25[OH]D) in 465 patients who were followed for up to five years with magnetic resonance imaging,

Researchers found that increases of 50-nmol/L in average blood 25[OH]D levels within the first 12 months was linked to a 57 percent lower risk of new active brain lesions, 57 percent lower risk of relapse, 25 percent lower yearly increase in T2 lesion volume and 0.41 percent lower yearly loss in brain volume from months 12 to 60.

"Among patients with MS mainly treated with interferon beta-1b, low 25[OH]D levels early in the disease course are a strong risk factor for long-term MS activity and progression," researchers wrote in the study.

"Because low vitamin D levels are common and can be easily and safely increased by oral supplementation, these findings may contribute to better outcomes for many MS patients," lead researcher Alberto Ascherio, professor of epidemiology and nutrition at HSPH, said in a news release.

"The benefits of vitamin D appeared to be additive to those of interferon beta-1b, a drug that is very effective in reducing MS activity. The findings of our study indicate that identifying and correcting vitamin D insufficiency should become part of the standard of care for newly diagnosed MS patients," added Ascherio.

The findings are published in the journal JAMA Neurology

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