According to an article by Sylvia Christakos, PhD, of the UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School, the research shows that the incidence of MS decreases as the amount of vitamin D available to the body increases, either through sunlight exposure or diet.
The study has been published online in the Journal of Cellular Biochemistry.
"Since vitamin D is produced in the skin through solar or UV irradiation and high serum levels have been shown to correlate with a reduced risk of MS, this suggests that vitamin D may regulate the immune response and may promote a host's reaction to a pathogen," Christakos said.
Christakos' report focuses on the immunosuppressive actions of the active form of vitamin D, which may inhibit the induction of MS, and emphasizes the importance of maintaining a sufficient vitamin D level.
"Evidence has shown that the maintenance of an adequate vitamin D level may have a protective effect in individuals predisposed to MS," Christakos said.
"One device of vitamin D action may be to preserve balance in the T-cell reaction and thus avoid autoimmunity," Christakos added.
Despite the significant evidence of the benefits of vitamin D relative to MS and other autoimmune diseases, Christakos cautions that further studies are needed to determine whether vitamin D alone or combined with other treatments is effective in individuals with active MS.