March 14, 2004 at 9:24 PM CST - Updated June 26 at 5:09 PM
Vitamin D Protects Against MS
New research shows women who take multivitamins that contain vitamin D are less likely to develop multiple sclerosis than women who do not take supplements.
Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health examined the results of two large studies involving more than 187,000 women. Researchers assessed the women’s diets and use of multivitamins at the start of the study and every four years after that.
Results show 173 women who participated in the study developed MS. Those who had the highest intake of vitamin D from supplements were 40-percent less likely to develop MS than those who did not take supplements. However, those whose intake of vitamin D was from food alone did not have a lower risk of developing the disease.
Researchers say since supplemental vitamin D was mainly from multivitamins, it is difficult to isolate its effects from the effects of the other vitamins. However, they say none of the other vitamins were significantly associated with risk of MS after adjusting for total vitamin D intake or vitamin D from supplements.
Some believe other factors suggest vitamin D could protect against MS. Kassandra Munger, MSc, from Harvard School of Public Health, says, “Because the number of cases of MS increases the farther you get from the equator, one hypothesis has been that sunlight exposure and high levels of vitamin D may reduce the risk of MS.” Researchers say they also analyzed the data while adjusting for smoking and latitude at birth, but the results remained the same.
Munger concludes, “These results need to be confirmed with additional research, but it’s exciting to think that something as simple as taking a multivitamin could reduce your risk of developing MS.”