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Vitamin D


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A number of genetic and environmental factors influence whether a person will get MS. These factors may also impact the severity of the disease. Research is increasingly pointing to a reduced level of vitamin D in the blood as a risk factor for developing MS, and studies are underway to determine if vitamin D levels influence MS disease activity. Recent research also points to a possible role for vitamin D in neuroprotection and myelin repair.

National MS Society drives vitamin D research

The National MS Society has led the way in this research, funding early preclinical studies, and now funding a clinical trial of vitamin D supplementation.

Should I have my blood levels of vitamin D checked?

Current research on vitamin D

Studies funded by the National MS Society:

  • Ellen Mowry, MD, MCR (Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore) and investigators at several centers nationwide are recruiting 172 people with relapsing-remitting MS to compare the effectiveness of the current recommended amount of vitamin D supplementation versus high dose vitamin D supplementation at reducing MS disease activity, when added to standard therapy with glatiramer acetate (Copaxone®, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries). Read more This study builds on the results of a small pilot trial.
  • Harvey Checkoway, PhD, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Minnesota and the National Cancer Institute, is gathering information from responses to questionnaires provided by a group of over 60,000 radiologic technologists. The study is comparing UVB exposures (which increases vitamin D production) between an estimated 350 MS cases and approximately 700 participants without MS. The researchers are also collecting information about several other factors which might influence MS development, such as smoking and obesity. This research could shed some light on the relation between vitamin D levels and the development of MS, and how to prevent the disease.
  • Dr. Amy Lovett-Racke (Ohio State University) is studying whether low vitamin D in early life increases the risk of developing MS because vitamin D plays a role in in the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) that protects it during childhood. Her team is utilizing a mouse model in which vitamin D signaling is only compromised in neurons (nerve cells). They are comparing reduced vitamin D signaling in early life compared to adulthood. If early life vitamin D influences susceptibility to an immune attack on the central nervous system, vitamin D might be increased in the diets of children to reduce their risk of developing MS.
NIH Studies on Vitamin D and MS
Further research on vitamin D and MS is funded by the National Institutes of Health. Read about these projects here.
Clinical Trials: Vitamin D and MS
Find out about clinical trials of vitamin D in people with MS that are listed on

Direct feed of latest published Vitamin D research results from the National Library of Medicine's PubMed.