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MS milder when patients begin with higher vitamin D levels.

Multiple sclerosis patients who harbor low levels of vitamin D early in their disease fare worse than patients with higher levels. MS is marked by damage to the myelin sheaths coating the brain's nerve fibers. The result can be an off-and-on series of symptoms including loss of muscle control, numbness and problems thinking. Vitamin D has shown promise in fighting a variety of diseases and may limit this MS onslaught (SN: 7/16/11, p. 22). In 2002, researchers studying the effect of the drug beta-interferon-lb against MS set aside blood samples from 465 patients. When researchers recently analyzed those samples, they found that patients who had had blood levels of vitamin D exceeding 20 nanograms per milliliter at six and 12 months after the onset of MS had fewer symptom flare-ups during the rest of the five-year study than those with lower readings did. Some scientists think 20 nanograms per milliliter is a healthy level; others see 30 as a healthier minimum. MRI scans revealed that, after five years, those who started out with low vitamin D levels had four times as much myelin damage as those with higher levels. The results appear in the March JAMA Neurology.

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Title Annotation:multiple sclerosis
Author:Seppa, Nathan
Publication:Science News
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 19, 2014
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