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Vitamin D benefits MS: A closer look at the genetic evidence

Posted on: June 3, 2013   by  Vitamin D Council


Researchers reveal molecular and genetic evidence that vitamin D benefits patients with multiple sclerosis who are receiving treatment.

Past research has shown that vitamin D may be important for preventing or treating the progression of MS, although researchers hadn’t previously identified what mechanisms were behind these findings.

Kassandra Munger, ScD, research associate at the Harvard School of Public Health, and colleagues used data from a recent MS treatment study (BENEFIT study) that assessed the safety and efficacy of early MS treatment in 470 patients with clinically isolated syndrome (CIS). CIS is considered the first neurological episode of MS. In the study, patients were randomly assigned to interferon β group (common treatment for MS) every other day (early treatment) or to placebo (delayed treatment) and followed for 2 years.

Results from the benefit study revealed significant improvements in clinical outcomes of patients who received early treatment compared to those who did not.

In the current study, researchers used samples from the past study population to assess vitamin D levels and measure gene expression. They noticed seasonal fluctuation in vitamin D levels that mimicked fluctuations in lesion counts. The researchers found that the highest vitamin D levels were associated with the fewest lesions.

“There is about a 57% reduced risk of new gadolinium lesions with every 50 nmol/liter [20 ng/ml] increase in vitamin D,” reported Dr. Munger.

The researchers found that both interferon β – which is known to reduce lesions – and higher vitamin D levels were significantly protective against the development of new lesions. They also looked at gene expression from the collected blood samples and found that there were 63 genes associated with vitamin D, 770 with interferon, and more than 5000 associated with lesions. There was overlap between the different gene sets, suggesting shared pathways.

Although this research doesn’t prove causation, it does offer important information about vitamin D’s role in multiple sclerosis.


Anderson P. Vitamin D benefit in MS: Molecular, Genetic Evidence. Medscape Today. May 31, 2013.

3 Responses to Vitamin D benefits MS: A closer look at the genetic evidence

  1. Rita and Misty

    I’ve heard about a doctor named Cicero, who treats patients in Brazil.

    Friends tell me that he gives patients very high doses of d3, and he aims for minimum 25(OH)D level of 160 ng/ml when using d3 as a treatment for autoimmune diseases.

    He does recommend that Calcium intake be monitored and kept low when using vitamin d in this manner, and he also recommends that patients drink at least 2.5 liters of water/day.

    Supposedly his high dose d3 treatments have had amazing results.

    (food for thought for sure)

  2. [email protected]

    It has taken me 2 years to reach a 94 Vitamin D test score. I began at 20 and I was extremely sick with 30 year RA along with other things now.

    My PCP wants me to lower this number stating I could be toxic. I try and share what I am learning here at the VDC and she is not interested. I could get another Dr. but all of them in this area hold the same opinion, Vit D needs to be held lower. I told her I would test it at 70-80 to see my pain levels. If my pain increases I will up my dose again.

    I am also taper off long-term prednisone use so I can see the true values of my blood work! Prednisone has hidden and makes me think I am okay when my blood works are all crazy and all over the board the last 2 years. I move to 13 mg in 2 days..

    I can’t wait till all this research catches up with mainstream medicne. It takes time.

    Look how far it has come already. Now the scale for Solstas Lab is 30-89 ng/ml. it used to be 20- 50. We have come a long way baby!

    Thanks Dr C for all your hard work! ..

  3. Rita and Misty

    @[email protected],

    I am always grateful that universal destiny directed me to Dr. John Cannell’s website…this is absolutely the best place for accurate, up-to-date information on vitamin d.

    He works hard (guaranteed), but imo his hard work is far surpassed by his courage to put his reputation on the line daily, to stand up for what he knows to be correct: that it would be unethical of any physician to delay advocating for patient supplementation with vitamin d at this time.

    (BTW–I work on the Island of Disbelief, so I know courage and its absence, when I see it)

    I’m thinking that it will take more than time for mainstream medicine to get a clue…it’s going to take some sort of push…not certain what or how…and my head spins from thinking about it.

    BTW–Physicians used to use 30 ng/ml as minimum for acceptable 25(OH)D levels…now (thanks to IOM) it is 20 ng/ml. This is a big (huge) disappointment to me.

    Those of us here who have been blessed with the intelligence to comprehend the significance of vitamin d are obligated to somehow do more….what that “more” is, I’m no longer certain….

    I am certain that there is strength in numbers, and in a united voice, and that we need Dr. John Cannell and he needs us…It is OUR Vitamin D Council. We exist because we choose to belong.

    The hard work really has just begun.

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