Several studies indicate that vitamin D may be helpful in reducing flare-ups of multiple sclerosis (although one trial, using D2, showed little effect). This month researchers from France, led by Dr. Pierrot-Deseilligny, discovered that the vitamin D’s effect in MS may be larger than suspected.
Pierrot-Deseilligny C. Relationship between 25-OH-D serum level and relapse rate in multiple sclerosis patients before and after vitamin D supplementation. Therapeutic Advances in Neurological Disorders July 2012 vol. 5 no. 4 187-198.
For the last two years, this group has treated all of their MS patients who have vitamin D deficiency with enough vitamin D to obtain levels greater than 40 ng/ml (100 nmol/L). They found, in an open study of 76 patients, that combined standard MS treatment with an average dose of 100,000 IU/month of vitamin D3, relapse rates decreased by 14% for every 10 nmol/L (4 ng/ml) increase in vitamin D levels.
Overall, they saw a 75% reduction in relapse rates if patients achieved a vitamin D level greater than 120 nmol/L (48 ng/ml). Unlike a previous Australian trial, the French researchers used human vitamin D (D3) instead of yeast vitamin D (D2). There was no evidence of a U shaped curve (higher relapse rates with both lower and higher levels).
My only concern in the study is that they used Stoss doses of D (100,000 IU monthly doses) instead of daily doses of vitamin D. A month may be long enough to have declining levels during the last two weeks of the month. A simple and natural dose of 5,000 IU/day would have achieved levels of 50 ng/ml in most, and since they measured vitamin D levels periodically, they could have increased the doses in those patients not achieving 50 ng/ml.
I liked the authors conclusions.
“While awaiting the results of randomized controlled trials, which will not be available for several years, it appears wise to supplement all MS patients currently in a state of vitamin D insufficiency in order to bring their vitamin D levels to just over the 100 nmol/L (40 ng/ml) level, since such supplementation already seems unavoidable from a general medical view, is safe, and might also be neurologically beneficial for the course of the disease.”