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Taking Vitamin D May Benefit People with MS

1/5/2016

Taking a high dose of vitamin D3 is safe for people with multiple sclerosis and may mediate the body’s hyperactive immune response, according to researchers led by Dr. Peter A. Calabresi, of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore.

For the study, 40 people with relapsing-remitting MS received either 10,400 IU or 800 IU of vitamin D3 supplements per day for six months. The current recommended daily allowance of vitamin D3 is 600 IU. Blood tests at the start of the study and again at three and six months measured the amount of vitamin D in the blood and the response in the immune system’s T cells. The people taking the high dose had a reduction in the percentage of T cells related to MS activity. When the increase in vitamin D in the blood was greater than 18 nanograms per milliliter, every 5 nanograms per milliliter increase in vitamin D led to a 1 percent decrease in the percentage of interleukin 17 T cells in the blood. The people taking the low dose did not have any changes in their T cells.

Side effects from the vitamin supplements were minor and were not different between the people taking the high dose and the people taking the low dose. One person in each group had a relapse of disease activity. The people in the study taking the high dose of vitamin D reached a level that has been proposed as a target for people with MS. Researchers noted that it may be that Vitamin D levels above 50 nanograms per milliliter are necessary to reduce disease activity. The group taking the low dose did not reach this target.

“These results are exciting, as vitamin D has the potential to be an inexpensive, safe and convenient treatment for people with MS,” said Calabresi. “More research is needed to confirm these findings with larger groups of people and to help us understand the mechanisms for these effects, but the results are promising.”

The study was published in the online issue of Neurology.



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