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Correction of vitamin D deficiency improves seizure control in epilepsy

Posted on: April 18, 2012   by  Brant Cebulla


Correction of vitamin D deficiency could help control seizures in epilepsy, according to a recently published study by a group of researchers in Hungary.

Holló A, Clemens Z, Kamondi A, Lakatos P, Szűcs A. Correction of vitamin D deficiency improves seizure control in epilepsy: A pilot study. Epilepsy and Behavior. 2012 Apr 11.

Lead investigator András Holló and company measured baseline levels of vitamin D in 13 subjects. Ten of the subjects had localization-related epilepsy, two had Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and one subject was diagnosed with idiopathic generalized epilepsy. The subjects’ ages ranged between 19-60 years and had epilepsy from 10 to 42 years. Median serum levels at baseline were 11.8 ng/ml, ranging from less than 4 ng/ml to 34.2 ng/ml. Eight of the patients had levels less than 12 ng/ml.

The investigators corrected deficiency in all 13 subjects by administering a one-time 40,000-200,000 IU dose of vitamin D3 to treat deficiency, and then administering a 2,000-2,600 IU daily dose of vitamin D3 for 3 months. The aim of treatment was to raise levels above 30 ng/ml. After a three month follow-up, the median 25(OH)D level was 38 ng/ml, ranging from 23.3-45 ng/ml.

They compared the number of seizures in this 3 month period with the 3 month period beforehand. The results were as follows:

  • 10 of the 13 subjects exhibited a decrease in number of seizures
  • 2 of the 13 subjects exhibited an increase in number of seizures
  • One of the subjects had exactly the same number of seizures
  • Overall, there was a median seizure number reduction of 40%, and this was statistically significant (p=.04)
  • A seizure reduction of greater than 50% was experienced in five patients
  • In the subject who started with a level less than 4 ng/ml and raised their level to 43.1 ng/ml, they experienced a reduction in number of seizures from 450 to 30 over three month intervals

The authors offered no mechanistic explanation for the results. They did point out that vitamin D receptors and enzyme activators are present in the brain. In the patient who had a level lower than 4 ng/ml and 450 seizures in three months, you can’t help but speculate that low serum calcium may have played a role in that subject’s seizure frequency.

Study limitations include small number of patients and lack of a placebo to compare to. This study certainly warrants a randomized controlled trial, and it also highlights the importance of correcting vitamin D deficiency in epilepsy patients. There is no harm in treating vitamin D deficiency, and this pilot study shows that epilepsy patients could be much better off with a simple maintenance dose of vitamin D.

The Vitamin D Council recommends a maintenance dose of 5,000 IU/day for adults and 1,000 IU/day for every 25lbs of body weight in children to sustain vitamin D sufficiency.

3 Responses to Correction of vitamin D deficiency improves seizure control in epilepsy

  1. phil stilliard

    You say “group of researchers in Hungary” To give this research credibility you should state what institute it is. I would like to quote this as I have arguments with NICE and Dept of Health in UK. This would be ignored without a named research lab.

  2. Tom


    I would like to see geomagnetic data in relation to this vitamin D in epilepsy study.

    This is because geomagnetic activity in published studies increases biological stress via cortisol release. As we know the body uses more vitamin D under stress.

    There are even studies of geomagnetic activity and seizures.

    Sudden unexpected death in epileptics following sudden, intense, increases in geomagnetic activity: prevalence of effect and potential mechanisms

    MA Persinger… – International Journal of Biometeorology, 1995 – Springer

    … 0.57) the measures. There were no statistically significant associa- tions between
    seizure-related vibrational patterns and geomagnetic activity for any of the other days
    of the lag/lead interval of -3 to +3 days. Similarly there were …

    Correlation between convulsive seizure and geomagnetic activity

    M Rajaram… – Neuroscience Letters, 1981 – Elsevier

    Abstract The annual percentage of patients with convulsive seizure in the Neurological
    Department of the Bangur Institute of Neurology, Calcutta, is found to be significantly
    correlated with the annual values of sunspot numbers and geomagnetic activity indices for …

    So it is quite possible that increased geomagnetic induced cortisol release and decreased vitamin D due to geomagnetic cellular stress may be key to seizure activity.

    It would be interesting to see how geomagnetic data stacked up for the period during this study. Geomagnetic activity also varies over latitude.

    Interesting study.


  3. Brant Cebulla

    Phil, you can click on the abstract in the link in this blog post. PubMed will always list the affiliated institute of he lead investigator under the author’s name.

    In this case, the lead investigator is part of the National Institute for Medical Rehabilitation in Budapest, Hungary.

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