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Vitamin D May Protect Against Multiple Sclerosis

Lowered risk most pronounced for those with high vitamin D levels before age 20

TUESDAY, Dec. 19 (HealthDay News) -- Higher serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels are associated with a lower multiple sclerosis risk, especially in those with elevated levels before age 20, researchers report in the Dec. 20 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Alberto Ascherio, M.D., of the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, and colleagues used U.S. Defense Department data from more than 7 million U.S. military personnel collected between 1992 through 2004. They matched each of 257 multiple sclerosis cases with two controls and tested stored serum for 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels prior to diagnosis.

Among whites, the researchers found that higher vitamin D levels coincided with a significant drop in multiple sclerosis risk for 296 controls versus 148 patients (odds ratio 0.59 for a 50-nanomole-per-liter vitamin D increase).

Only the odds ratio for the top quintile was significantly different from 1.00. The researchers found an especially strong link between high vitamin D levels before age 20 and lower multiple sclerosis risk, but no significant link between vitamin D levels and multiple sclerosis risk in Hispanics and blacks, who had lower vitamin D levels than whites.

"The results of our study suggest that high circulating levels of vitamin D are associated with a lower risk of multiple sclerosis," the authors write.

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