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Vitamin D may slow progression of multiple sclerosis

January 21, 2014

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Low levels of vitamin D in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) strongly predicted disease severity and were found to hasten disease progression, according to a new study by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health. The findings, published online Monday in JAMA Neurology, suggest that patients in the early stages of the disease may be able to hold off MS symptoms by increasing their vitamin D intake.

Multiple sclerosis, which affects 400,000 people in the United States and has no cure, is a disease in which the body’s immune system attacks the myelin surrounding nerves. The disease can cause numbness, paralysis and loss of vision.

It's well established that people who live farther away from the equator, in any part of the world, are more likely to have MS. Because of this, researchers have suspected a link between the disease and sun exposure, or the vitamin D that the sun provides. But previous studies have often included both patients in early stages of the disease and those with advanced MS, making it difficult to determine whether low vitamin D is a cause or consequence of the disease itself. 

"Our study brings us a step closer to being able to separate out that temporal problem," said Harvard School of Public Health research associate Kassandra Munger, who is a co-author on the paper. 

Read the full article from here

About Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system that disrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body. Symptoms range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis. The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot yet be predicted, but advances in research and treatment are leading to better understanding and moving us closer to a world free of MS. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, with at least two to three times more women than men being diagnosed with the disease. MS affects more than 2.3 million people worldwide.


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