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Vitamin D Update

Annals of Neurology and the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. Both research papers suggest that battling deficiencies in elderly populations and people with multiple sclerosis could help to improve health and quality of life with vitamin D3.

In the first study, published in Annals of Neurology, researchers from Johns Hopkins University reveal that low blood levels of vitamin D are associated with an increased number of brain lesions and signs of a more active disease state in people with MS.
Low levels of vitamin D could be responsible for more severe multiple sclerosis (MS) symptoms and an increased risk of death in the elderly.

Some 2,362 brain MRI scans from 496 people were studied. Researchers found that each 10 ng/ml increase in 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels was associated with a 15% lower risk of new T2 lesions and a 32% lower risk of a gadolinium-enhancing lesion. Each 10ng/ml higher vitamin D level was also associated with lower disability.
“Lower levels of vitamin D are associated with more inflammation and lesions in the brain. If we are able to prove that through our currently-enrolling trial, it will change the way people with multiple sclerosis are treated.”

The second study, published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, suggests that low levels of D, in combination with high levels of parathyroid hormone (PTH), are associated with increased mortality in African American and Caucasian older adults. Researchers looked at 2,638 well-functioning blacks and whites (49% male, 39% black) aged 71-80 years with measured 25(OH)D and PTH. “We observed vitamin D insufficiency in one-third of our study participants. This was associated with a 50% increase in the mortality rate in older adults.”

The good news is it’s easy to improve vitamin D status either through increased skin exposure to sunlight or through diet or supplements.

Annals of Neurology 72(2):234-240, 2012
Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism; Published online ahead of print.

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