Higher Vitamin D Levels Associated With Fewer MS Symptoms

Higher vitamin D levels associated with fewer MS symptoms

Higher vitamin D levels associated with fewer MS symptoms

Tuesday, October 9, 2012. The August, 2012 issue of the Annals of Neurology reported the finding of researchers at the University of California, San Francisco of a reduction in brain lesions and disease activity in multiple sclerosis (MS) patients who had higher levels of vitamin D. Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease that can result in severe disability. The decreased prevalence of the MS in lower latitudes has led researchers to suggest a protective effect for sunlight and the vitamin D it produces in the body against the risk of developing the disease.

The current discovery is the result of the five year EPIC study of 469 men and women with multiple sclerosis who underwent yearly blood testing for vitamin D and brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to evaluate disease progression. Ellen M. Mowry, MD, MCR and her associates determined that with each 10 nanogram per milliliter increase in serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D there was a corresponding 15 percent reduction in the risk of new brain lesions as well as a 32 percent lower risk of areas of active disease as indicated by white spots visible upon MRI examination. These areas reveal inflammation of the nerve fibers' myelin sheath, which provides insulation and facilitates the transmission of electric signals. Increases in new lesions and areas of active disease in early multiple sclerosis have been correlated with a greater risk of long term disability.

Having a higher vitamin D level was also associated with a reduced risk in becoming disabled, and a nonsignificant decrease in relapse risk. Relapses in MS are characterized by attacks of symptoms, including blurred vision, weakness and numbness. The most common form of MS is known as relapsing-remitting MS, in which patients undergo symptomatic and asymptomatic periods.

The study also revealed that vitamin D levels during a particular year were predictive of the appearance of new lesions and active disease spots during the following year.

"Vitamin D is a hormone, and any medication really does need to be thoroughly tested before we definitely recommend it," noted Dr Mowry, who is now affiliated with Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. "That's the main reason why we are now performing a randomized trial of vitamin D supplementation."

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Vitamin D improves TB recovery

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In an article published on September 4, 2012 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, British researchers report a beneficial effect for vitamin D supplementation in tuberculosis (TB) patients being treated with antibiotics. The finding adds evidence to pre-antibiotic era treatment of TB that involved sunbathing (which stimulates the body's production of vitamin D) at sanatoriums.

Ninety-five TB patients were randomized to receive a high dose of vitamin D or a placebo during their initial eight weeks of antibiotic therapy. Blood and sputum samples were analyzed before, during and after treatment.

Participants who received vitamin D experienced more rapid sputum smear conversion, indicating accelerated clearance of Mycobacterium tuberculosis from the lungs, as well as a greater decline in factors related to inflammation in comparison with those who received a placebo. "These findings are very significant," stated lead researcher Adrian Martineau, who is a senior lecturer in respiratory infection and immunity at Queen Mary University of London's Blizard Institute. "They indicate that vitamin D may have a role in accelerating resolution of inflammatory responses in tuberculosis patients. This is important, because sometimes these inflammatory responses can cause tissue damage leading to the development of cavities in the lung. If we can help these cavities to heal more quickly, then patients should be infectious for a shorter period of time, and they may also suffer less lung damage"

"More broadly, the ability of vitamin D to dampen down inflammatory responses without compromising the actions of antibiotics raises the possibility that supplementation might also have benefits in patients receiving antimicrobial therapy for pneumonia, sepsis and other lung infections," he added. "We are hoping to do more work to evaluate the effects of higher doses and different forms of vitamin D to see if they have a more dramatic effect."


Life Extension Magazine® October 2012 Issue Now Online!

Life Extension Magazine October 2012

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