In a separate study presented at the European Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis (ECTRIMS) Congress in Barcelona, Hala Darwish, PhD, of the American University of Beirut, and colleagues found that supplementation of vitamin D in patients with MS was beneficial for cognition.

The study included data from 89 adult RRMS patients with either low 25(OH)D (< 25µg/ml) levels (n=41) or normal (>35 µg/ml) levels (n=48). At baseline, participants with low vitamin D levels scored less on all cognitive tests except Stroop, with significant differences observed for Symbol Digit Modalities Test (SDMT) and Brief Visual Memory Test delayed recall (BVMT-DR). Serum 25(OH)D levels correlated positively and significantly with BVMT-DR. 

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At baseline, the normal level group had lower anxiety scores compared to those with low vitamin D level. After three months of vitamin D supplementation, anxiety scores decreased in participants with low vitamin D level, while scores for BVMT immediate (10 and 30 sec.), delayed recall (20 min.), and Arabic-Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) improved. Notably, Stroop and BVMT scores improved in both participant groups.

Interestingly, exercise positively correlated with cognitive performance in all tests except Stroop (BVMT: 10 sec. r=0.61, 20 sec. r=0.64, 30 sec. r=0.70; DR r=0.54, SDMT r=0.56, MoCA=0.46; P< 0.05) and also had a strong correlation with cognitive performance among participants with low vitamin D level (BVMT: 10 sec. r=0.94, 20 sec. r=0.8, 30 sec. r=0.89; DR r=0.81, SDMT r=0.74, MoCA r=0.61; P< 0.01], suggesting a compensatory role for exercise in the group.

Overall, cognitive performance and anxiety seem to be affected by low 25(OH)D level and improve after supplementation with vitamin D. The results of both studies indicate a beneficial role for vitamin D supplementation in order to maintain normal 25(OH)D level in patients with MS.

References

  1. Fitzgerald KC et al. JAMA Neurology. 2015; doi:10.1001/jamaneurol.2015.2742.
  2. Darwish H et al. Abstract 129. Presented at: The European Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis (ECTRIMS) Congress; Oct. 7-10, 2015; Barcelona.