Advertisement

What is the link between vitamin D and multiple sclerosis?

Scientists and doctors are studying how vitamin D levels affect multiple sclerosis (MS). Studies are increasingly showing that people with low vitamin D levels are more likely to develop MS. Scientists first noticed that people who live in higher latitudes (where there is less sun exposure) are more likely to develop MS. Those who live near the equator (lower latitudes) are exposed to more sunlight, and therefore usually have higher levels of vitamin D in their bodies. It is thought that perhaps this high level of vitamin D helps prevent MS.

Other research has suggested that, among people who already have MS, higher vitamin D levels may lessen symptoms and slow the progress of the disease. But more research is needed. 
Numerous studies have linked low vitamin D levels to multiple sclerosis (MS). In fact, MS is virtually unknown in equatorial regions, where sun exposure is high; and its prevalence increases with latitude, as sun exposure diminishes. Norway, where the diet is high in vitamin D–rich fatty fish and cod-liver oil, is an exception, particularly in coastal towns where fish consumption is the highest. In a Harvard School of Public Health study, those with highest vitamin D levels demonstrated a 62 percent lower risk of MS.

Continue Learning about Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

Ask the Experts: Multiple Sclerosis Risks and Causes
Ask the Experts: Multiple Sclerosis Risks and Causes
The cause of multiple sclerosis, a disease of the immune system, is unknown, but some believe there are genetic and environmental factors. In this vid...
Read More
What increases my risk of seizures if I have multiple sclerosis (MS)?
Multiple Sclerosis FoundationMultiple Sclerosis Foundation
Seizures are one of the less common problems associated with multiple sclerosis (MS). They may occur...
More Answers
7 Things a Neurologist Wants You to Know About Multiple Sclerosis
7 Things a Neurologist Wants You to Know About Multiple Sclerosis7 Things a Neurologist Wants You to Know About Multiple Sclerosis7 Things a Neurologist Wants You to Know About Multiple Sclerosis7 Things a Neurologist Wants You to Know About Multiple Sclerosis
Bust the myths—and get the truth—about MS.
Start Slideshow
Will I Die from Multiple Sclerosis?
Will I Die from Multiple Sclerosis?

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.