A new study has shown that assessing blood vitamin D levels may help predict whether a person is at risk of multiple sclerosis (MS).
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According to one of the study authors, Kassandra Munger (Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston), only a few studies have previously looked at the association between blood vitamin D and MS risk and those studies were small.
This new study involved a large number of women and it showed that correcting vitamin D deficiency in young and middle-aged women may reduce their risk of developing MS later in life.
Munger and team tested blood samples taken from more than 800,000 women in Finland as part of prenatal testing. They then established that 1,092 of the women had developed MS an average of nine years after their blood samples were taken and compared those women to 2,123 women who had not developed the condition.
Of those who had developed the disease, 58% were vitamin D deficient, compared with 52% of those who did not develop it.
A deficient vitamin D level was defined as less than 30 nmol/L; an insufficient level as 30 to 49 nmol/L and an adequate level as 50 nmol/L or higher.
Further analysis showed that women who were vitamin D deficient were at a 43% greater risk of developing MS than women with adequate levels and a 27% greater risk than those with insufficient levels. The study also showed that with each 50 nmol/L increase in blood vitamin D level, there was a 39% reduction in the likelihood of MS developing in the future.
Munger says more studies are needed to determine what the optimal vitamin D dose is for redcuing the risk of MS developing but that “striving to achieve vitamin D sufficiency over the course of a person's life will likely have multiple health benefits."