Lower vitamin D levels may lead to increased risk of multiple sclerosis (MS), according a new genetic study published in PLOS Medicine.

Study investigators from McGill University, Canada, examined data of 14,498 patients with MS and 24,091 healthy controls from the International Multiple Sclerosis Genetics Consortium study. They utilized Mendelian randomization to reduce the possibility of confounding characteristics that may increase a person’s risk of multiple sclerosis. Upon observation of the study participants’ 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels, the researchers found that a genetic decrease in the natural-log-transformed vitamin D level by one standard deviation was linked to a two-fold increased risk of MS.

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Researchers noted that some assumptions made in their analysis may make the findings less reliable but they concluded there was a strong association between vitamin D levels and risk of MS. They added, “whether vitamin D sufficiency can delay, or prevent, multiple sclerosis onset merits further investigation in long-term randomized controlled trials.” Current randomized controlled trials are evaluating vitamin D supplementation for the treatment and prevention of MS.

For more information visit PLOS.org.