In the 2020 published study, “the impact of vitamin D3 intake on inflammatory markers in multiple sclerosis patients and their first-degree relatives,” scientists found that vitamin D administration significantly increases the levels of the anti-inflammatory molecules and decreases the levels of pro-inflammatory molecules, indicating a shift in the immune system toward an anti-inflammatory state.1 As we’ve often noted and about which you’ve likely read a great deal as of late, these molecules or cytokines are the small secreted proteins important in cell signaling (read more about these and neural signaling in our recent scientific article).
Viruses and vitamin D.
In addition to an association with neurodegenerative diseases, low vitamin D levels also have been linked to other illnesses including COVID 19. A study published mid-summer of last year looked at whether deficiencies in this nutrient implied greater severity of disease in some patients. In their abstract, authors noted that “a principal defense against uncontrolled inflammation, and against viral infection in general, is provided by T regulatory lymphocytes (Tregs). Treg levels have been reported to be low in many COVID-19 patients and can be increased by vitamin D supplementation. Low vitamin D levels have been associated with an increase in inflammatory cytokines and a significantly increased risk of pneumonia and viral upper respiratory tract infections.” The conclusion, which we’ve also discussed in an earlier blog, seems to indicate that easily available and affordable vitamin D3 supplements may be especially helpful now to include as part of a healthy lifestyle.
It’s important to remember that vitamin D is not readily found in many foods and in combination with our indoor lifestyles, most of us may be very deficient - whether we have MS or not, this nutrient is vital to our health. We invite you to review some of our other articles that discuss in more detail the numerous benefits of vitamin D and, as always, talk to a doctor or nutritionist about supplementing your diet appropriately.
Dr. Suzanne Gazda
1 Hashemi R, Hosseini-Asl SS, Arefhosseini SR, Morshedi M (2020) The impact of vitamin D3 intake on inflammatory markers in multiple sclerosis patients and their first-degree relatives. PLoS ONE 15(4): e0231145. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0231145
2 Weir, E. K., Thenappan, T., Bhargava, M., & Chen, Y. (2020). Does vitamin D deficiency increase the severity of COVID-19?. Clinical medicine (London, England), 20(4), e107–e108. https://doi.org/10.7861/clinmed.2020-0301
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Suzanne Gazda M.D.