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Multiple Sclerosis News: Vitamin D fights multiple sclerosis (MS) - study

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By David Liu, PHD

Wednesday Jul 17, 2012  (foodconsumer.org) -- Evidence is increasing to suggest that vitamin D can protect against the development of multiple sclerosis (MS), according to a study in the July 17, 2012 issue of Neurology.  T.F. Runia and colleagues, authors of the study also say the sunshine vitamin may also be able to help fight te disease.

For the study, the researchers followed 73 patients with relapsing-remitting MS and analysed their blood samples for 25-OH-D every eight weeks. Then they used Poisson regression, a statistical analysis method, to establish an association between vitamin D levels and exacerbation rates in the patients with multiple sclerosis.

During the 1.7-year follow-up, 58 multiple sclerosis patients expeience 139 exacerbations.  Patients who had highest serum vitamin D levels were significantly less likely to experience exacerbations.  

Specifically, high levels were linked to 50 percent reduction in the risk and median levels were associated with 30percent reduction compared to the lower levels.

Also the researchers found with the vitamin D level doubled, the exacerbation rate decreased by 27 percent.

The researchers concluded "higher vitamin D levels are associated with decreased exacerbation risk in relapsing-remitting MS suggests a beneficial effect of vitamin D on disease course in MS."

Vitamin D has been associated with more than 100 health conditions including heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and high blood pressure.  Now the new study linked vitamin D with multiple sclerosis.

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a nervous disease that affects the patient's brain and spinal cord. It damages the myelin sheath, the tissue that surrounds and protects nerve cells. This damage slows down or blocks signal transmission between the brain and the body, leading to the symptoms of MS, according to National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. 

Symptoms of multiple sclerosis can include

Visual disturbances
Muscle weakness
Trouble with coordination and balance
Sensations such as numbness, prickling, or "pins and needles"
Thinking and memory problems

Disease onset often occurs in young adults, and the disease affects more women than men. Although the outcome of the disease is often not serious,  but some patients can lose the ability to write, speak or walk.  The disease has no cure, but treatment can ease symptoms.

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