New study finds vitamin D deficiency linked to impaired cognitive function even in early stages of MS.
In this recent interdisciplinary study conducted in Italy by researchers representing several major medical and academic centers, patients whose vitamin D levels registered extremely low (less than 30 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL) exhibited delayed cognitive processing speed. Additionally, these same subjects had overall worse disease progression with more active symptoms – something we’ve previously noted in prior related articles.
Vitamin D has long been known to support immune system and cellular processes, including reducing pro-inflammatory signals and subsequently promoting nerve cell survival. All of this is crucial in many neurological diseases like MS as well as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
In this year-long study, patients were assessed at the start and at the end of the trial period in order to measure blood serum ng/mL levels in both winter and summer. But no discernible differences were found, which would seem to support further the need to supplement vitamin D given the difficulty in otherwise getting enough of this nutrient through diet or exposure to sunlight alone.
Other conditions impacted by low vitamin D levels.
We know that individuals with inadequate intake of vitamin D also run the risk of developing a number of other acute and chronic ailments such as cardiovascular and autoimmune diseases, diabetes, cancer, infectious diseases, periodontal disease and more. But perhaps most concerning as of late is the association between low vitamin D and severity and poor outcomes with COVID infection.2
Scientists at the University of Edinburgh and Trinity College, United Kingdom, also had in September published findings with “further evidence that vitamin D might protect against severe COVID-19 infection. Conducting a properly designed COVID-19 randomised controlled trial of vitamin D supplementation is critical. Until then, given that vitamin D supplements are safe and cheap, it is definitely advisable to take supplements and protect against vitamin D deficiency, particularly with winter on the horizon.”3
Widely available in many stores and online, quality vitamin D supplements clearly play an important role in supporting our neurological and general health. We typically strive to achieve levels in our patients between 60 and 80 ng/mL, but you always should consult your physician for guidance appropriate to your specific needs.
In health and healing,
Dr. Suzanne Gazda
1 Virgilio E, Vecchio D, Crespi I, Barbero P, Caloni B, Naldi P, Cantello R, Dianzani U, Comi C. Serum Vitamin D as a Marker of Impaired Information Processing Speed and Early Disability in Multiple Sclerosis Patients. Brain Sciences. 2021; 11(11):1521. https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci11111521
2 Joseph Katz, Sijia Yue, Wei Xue, Increased risk for COVID-19 in patients with vitamin D deficiency, Nutrition, Volume 84, 2021, 111106, ISSN 0899-9007, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nut.2020.111106
3 Li X, van Geffen J, van Weele M, et al. An observational and Mendelian randomisation study on vitamin D and COVID-19 risk in UK Biobank. Scientific Reports. 2021;11(1):18262. doi: 10.1038/s41598-021-97679-5.