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Role of Vitamin D in Multiple Sclerosis: A Review

In a review of studies related to the role of vitamin D in the prevention and treatment of patients with multiple sclerosis (MS), it was concluded that supplementation with vitamin D may help to prevent the development of MS and may help to decrease the exacerbation of MS symptoms in persons already diagnosed with MS. After searching Medline (1966 through April 2006), International Pharmaceutical Abstracts (1970 through April 2006), and additional references found from identified articles, several studies involving vitamin D and MS were identified. Supplementation with vitamin D was associated with a 40% reduced risk of developing MS according to the results of a large, prospective, cohort study. Supplementation with vitamin D was found to decrease the exacerbation of MS symptoms, according to four smaller, uncontrolled studies. Finally, in a study involving mice, supplementation with vitamin D was found to prevent the development and progression of an animal model of MS. The author points out that in general, the studies to date have been carried out in small populations, and the results may be confounded by variables such as additional vitamin and mineral supplementation. Despite these limitations, the results of this review suggest that vitamin D may indeed have an important role to play in the prevention of MS and as a therapeutic agent in the treatment of patients with MS.