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Link between vitamin D and MS onset

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People with genes that cause them to have low levels of vitamin D are more likely to develop MS according to new research

The study, led by researchers from McGill University in Montreal, identified genes associated with lower vitamin D levels. They used information form the International Multiple Sclerosis Genetics Consortium study, which involved almost 15,000 people with MS and 24,000 healthy controls, and found that there was an association between genetically reduced vitamin D levels and susceptibility to MS.

Although the study suggests that low vitamin D levels have a role in causing the development of multiple sclerosis, more studies are needed to see if increasing vitamin D levels in people at high risk of MS reduces the number of people who go on to develop the condition.

This study did not look at the effect of vitamin D levels on people who have already been diagnosed with MS.

Amy Bowen, Director of Service Development at the MS Trust said

"This research is an important addition to the knowledge about the connection between vitamin D and multiple sclerosis. Although more research is needed, it suggests that a public health approach to raising vitamin D levels, which are generally low in the UK population, may lead to fewer people being diagnosed with MS in the future."

 

The Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) is currently consulting on draft guidelines that suggest people in the UK should have a dietary intake of 10 micrograms (400IU) of vitamin D per day. This level is based on protecting musculoskeletal health.

More references

  • Mokry LE, et al. Vitamin D and risk of multiple sclerosis: a Mendelian randomization study. PLoS Medicine 2015;12(8):e1001866. Full article (pdf 1.1Mb)