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Multiple sclerosis patients should use vitamin D

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By David Liu, PHD

Wednesday Jan 29, 2013 (foodconsumer.org) -- A review study suggests vitamin D insufficiency may have something to do with the pathogenesis of multiple sclerosis.  And authors of the review recommend that MS patients should take moderate doses of vitamin D to maintain their health.

Charles Pierrot-Deseilligny from Université Pierre et Marie Curie (Paris VI) and Jean-Claude Souberbielle from Université René Descartes (Paris V) in Paris, France report vitamin D has been found to play a role in immunomodulation in experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis and in humans.

The immunomodulation of the peripheral immune system is considered the main mechanism through which vitamin D may influence multiple sclerosis although other modes of action in the central nervous system may also have an effect, the authors state.

Vitamin D insufficiency has been found common in patients with multiple sclerosis at the earliest stages of the disease, which suggests that vitamin D insufficiency may exert a deleterious effect in these patients, according to the authors.

Genetic risk factors may also have an impact on multiple sclerosis.  For instance, the authors say several human leukocyte antigen alleles particularly some genes involved in vitamin D metabolism may play a role in the pathogenesis of multiple sclerosis.

In addition to vitamin insufficiency, two environmental risk factors Epstein–Barr virus infection and cigarette smoking can increase risk of multiple sclerosis.  

And environmental risk factors can also interact with genetic risk factors during a patient's mother's pregnancy, childhood and adolescence to increase or decrease the risk of multiple sclerosis.   These risk factors can affect the risk of multiple sclerosis prior to the development of the disease in adulthood.

Clinical evidence strongly suggests vitamin D status may affect the relapse rate and radiological lesions in patients with multiple sclerosis even though adequately conducted trials that intend to examine the efficacy of vitamin D supplement have not been reported.

The authors suggest patients should not wait for further research to be completed to take action and patients with multiple sclerosis who are currently vitamin D deficient or insufficient should take moderate doses of vitamin D at least for their general health status.

Vitamin D deficiency is associated with more than 100 health conditions including multiple sclerosis, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, infections, and depression among others.  So even if you do not have multiple sclerosis, you may be better off taking vitamin D supplements.

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