Tuesday, January 5, 2016

New Research on Vitamin D and MS

Happy New Year!

Scientists and health-care advocates are encouraged by new research that has found vitamin D may help repair damage to myelin — the protective sheath surrounding nerve fibers — in people with multiple sclerosis (MS).

The study, conducted by the University of Cambridge in England and published earlier this month in the Journal of Cell Biology, offers significant evidence that vitamin D could one day be used as a treatment for MS.

Researchers from the MS Society Cambridge Centre for Myelin Repair found that the vitamin D receptor protein pairs with an existing protein, called the RXR gamma receptor, which has already proven to help repair myelin.

The study, led by Professor Robin Franklin, determined that the production rate of myelin-making cells (oligodendrocytes) increased by 80% when added to brain stem cells where the proteins were present.

Further study is needed to determine whether the results found in the lab hold true in patients with MS during clinical trials. 

An estimated 100,000 Canadians have MS — the highest prevalence rate in the world. The Vitamin D Society, a Canadian non-profit group organized to increase awareness of the many health conditions strongly linked to vitamin D deficiency, is following the research closely. The organization encourages Canadians to be proactive in protecting their health and have their vitamin D levels tested annually.

In Canada, approximately 12 million Canadians do not meet vitamin D blood level requirements of 50 nmol/L set by Health Canada and the Institute of Medicine. This figure rises to 14 million — 40% of us — during winter months.