Vitamin D could cure MS: How a simple supplement can dampen down the immune response
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic autoimmune disease that affects the central nervous system. It causes inflammation and damage to the protective coating of nerve fibers, called myelin, leading to various symptoms such as vision problems, fatigue, numbness, pain and mobility issues.
While there is no cure for MS, there are treatments that can help manage the symptoms and reduce the frequency and severity of relapses. However, some of these treatments have side effects and may not work for everyone.
But what if there was a simple and cheap way to prevent or treat MS A growing body of research suggests that vitamin D, a fat-soluble vitamin that is synthesized by the skin from sunlight and found in certain foods and supplements, may have a protective effect against MS.
How vitamin D works in MS
Vitamin D is known to play an important role in bone health, as it helps regulate calcium metabolism and absorption. But it also has other functions in the body, such as modulating the immune system.
Some studies have shown that people who get more sun exposure and vitamin D in their diet have a lower risk of developing MS. For example, a study by researchers at Harvard University found that women who took 400 international units (IUs) or more of vitamin D per day had a 40% lower risk of MS than those who took less than 100 IUs per day [^2^].
Another study by researchers at Oxford University found that people who had higher levels of vitamin D in their blood had a lower risk of developing MS than those who had lower levels [^3^]. The researchers estimated that increasing vitamin D levels by 50 nmol/L could prevent up to half of the cases of MS in the UK.
But how does vitamin D prevent or treat MS One possible mechanism is that vitamin D can dampen down the hyperactive immune response that causes inflammation and damage to the myelin. Vitamin D can do this by inhibiting the production and function of certain types of immune cells that are involved in MS, such as Th-1 and Th-17 cells [^4^].
Vitamin D can also promote the actions of T regulatory (T-reg) cells, a protective type of immune cell that can suppress autoimmune disease [^4^]. In addition, vitamin D can enhance the production of neurotrophic factors, which are molecules that support the survival and growth of nerve cells [^4^].
The benefits of vitamin D supplementation in MS
Given the potential role of vitamin D in MS, some researchers have investigated whether taking vitamin D supplements can help people who already have MS. Some studies suggest that vitamin D supplementation may offer some benefits, such as:
Reducing the relapse rate: A randomized controlled trial by researchers at McGill University found that taking 14,000 IUs of vitamin D per day for one year reduced the relapse rate by 34% compared to taking 1,000 IUs per day [^5^]. Another randomized controlled trial by researchers at CharitÃ University Hospital in Berlin found that taking 10,200 IUs of vitamin D per day for six months reduced the relapse rate by 50% compared to taking 200 IUs per day .
Improving disability and quality of life: A randomized controlled trial by researchers at Tehran University of Medical Sciences found that taking 50,000 IUs of vitamin D per week for 12 weeks improved disability scores and quality of life scores compared to taking a placebo .
Delaying disease progression: A retrospective study by researchers at Johns Hopkins University found that people with relapsing-remitting MS who had higher levels of vitamin D in their blood had a longer time to progress to secondary-progressive MS than those who had lower levels .
The safety and dosage of vitamin D supplementation in MS
Vitamin D supplementation in people with MS appears to be safe but at high doses can lead to changes in calcium levels. Therefore, it is important to monitor blood aa16f39245
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