The research shows that the sunshine vitamin has a preventive effect on multiple sclerosis. Thus, it raises the possibility that doctors might be able to forestall the progression of the debilitating disease by having patients take the widely available nutrient shortly after diagnosis.
The study has been presented at an international conference on multiple sclerosis in Montreal.
"We are implicating vitamin D insufficiency as a risk factor," globeandmail.com quoted Brenda Banwell, director of the pediatric multiple sclerosis program at Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children and one of the researchers conducting the study, as saying.
Since 2004, Banwell and other researchers have been compiling a national survey of children going to hospital with symptoms indicating early signs of MS. The children, whose average age was 11, were given blood tests to establish their vitamin D status.
Preliminary results indicate that 28 per cent of those with the lowest amounts at the time of initial symptoms have gone on to develop the condition by suffering a second attack, compared with only 7 per cent of those with higher levels.