According to a recent study published by Johns Hopkins physicians in Neurology, taking vitamin D may help regulate the body's overactive immune response in individuals with multiple sclerosis (MS).
Low serum vitamin D 25-OH levels in the blood have been associated with an increased risk of developing MS. People who have MS and low levels of vitamin D are more likely to have greater disability and increased disease activity.
In this study, 40 people with MS received either 10,400 IUs or 800 IUs of supplemental vitamin D daily for a six month period. Individuals with severe vitamin D deficiency were not included in the study.
Vitamin D levels were assessed at the beginning of the study, at three months, and at six months. Researchers measured vitamin D and the immune system's T cell response, which play a critical role in MS.
Although an optimal level of vitamin D for individuals with MS has not been established, researchers suggested a target range of 40 to 60 ng/ml. Participants taking the high dose of vitamin D reached levels within this proposed target; however, the group taking only 600 IU daily – the current RDA – did not reach the target.
This confirms the paper published last year in the journal Nutrients, which showed that the IOM had made a calculation error in defining the intake needed to reach and maintain 20 ng/mL. If IOM calculated it correctly, the RDA would have been at least 10 times greater than the current RDA of 600 IU.
The results of this new Johns Hopkins study demonstrated that the participants taking the high dose vitamin D had a reduction in the percentage of inflammatory T cells related to MS severity. When the increase in vitamin D levels over baseline levels was greater than 18 ng/ml, each additional 5 ng/ml increase in vitamin D resulted in a 1% decrease in the percentage of T cells in the blood. The people taking the low dose did not have any significant changes.
This is yet another study confirming vitamin D’s role in autoimmune diseases and in modulating the immune system. A study I shared back in December from The Journal of Cell Biology suggested a new role for vitamin D in MS patients in regards to how it affected the disease progression by promoting myelin sheath regeneration in these patients.
By Michael Jurgelewicz, DC, DACBN, DCBCN
Source: E. S. Sotirchos, P. Bhargava, C. Eckstein, K. Van Haren, M. Baynes, A. Ntranos, A. Gocke, L. Steinman, E. M. Mowry, P. A. Calabresi. Safety and immunologic effects of high- vs low-dose cholecalciferol in multiple sclerosis. Neurology, 2015; DOI: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000002316