Appreciation of vitamin D, popularly known as “the sunshine vitamin”, continues to grow. Despite being known as a critical nutrient for bone, cellular, and cognitive health, it is also often deficient—especially in elderly individuals, people who work primarily indoors, or those who live in northern climates.
A recent Finnish study found that vitamin D—or the lack thereof—may also be a factor in developing multiple sclerosis (MS). Women with lower levels of serum vitamin D had a 43 percent higher risk of MS than those with higher levels (<30 nmol/L had versus ≥50 nmol/L, respectively).
Vitamin D in supplemental form is a very low cost option with an extremely high reward. It is a sensible option for anyone, and comes in a variety of dosages that may guard against conditions that could otherwise be avoided.
Munger KL, Hongell K, Åivo J, Soilu-Hänninen M, Surcel HM, Ascherio A. 25-Hydroxyvitamin D deficiency and risk of MS among women in the Finnish Maternity Cohort. Neurology. 2017 Sep 13.
OBJECTIVE: To determine whether and to what extent vitamin D deficiency is associated with multiple sclerosis (MS) risk.
METHODS: We conducted a prospective nested case-control study among women in the Finnish Maternity Cohort (FMC). The FMC had 1.8 million stored serum samples taken during the pregnancies of over 800,000 women at the time of this study. Through linkages with hospital and prescription registries, we identified 1,092 women with MS diagnosed between 1983 and 2009 with at least 1 serum sample collected prior to date of MS diagnosis; ≥2 serum samples were available for 511 cases. Cases were matched to up to 3 controls (n = 2,123) on date of birth (±2 years) and area of residence. 25-Hydroxyvitamin D (25[OH]D) levels were measured using a chemiluminescence assay. We used conditional logistic regression adjusted for year of sample collection, gravidity, and parity to estimate relative risks (RRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs).
RESULTS: A 50 nmol/L increase in 25(OH)D was associated with a 39% reduced risk of MS (RR 0.61, 95% CI 0.44-0.85), p = 0.003. Women with 25(OH)D levels <30 nmol/L had a 43% higher MS risk (RR 1.43, 95% CI 1.02-1.99, p = 0.04) as compared to women with levels ≥50 nmol/L. In women with ≥2 samples, MS risk was 2-fold higher in women with 25(OH)D <30 nmol/L as compared to women with 25(OH)D ≥50 nmol/L (RR 2.02, 95% CI 1.18-3.45, p = 0.01).
CONCLUSIONS: These results directly support vitamin D deficiency as a risk factor for MS and strengthen the rationale for broad public health interventions to improve vitamin D levels.