Higher vitamin D levels associated with lower relapse risk in MS

Sean and his family New Menzies study

More people are suffering with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) per capita in Tasmania than in any other state in Australia. 

In fact, between 1951 and 2009 the incidence of MS in Tasmania nearly doubled.
MS is a chronic degenerative and unpredictable condition that randomly attacks the brain and spinal cord. The symptoms of MS vary greatly from person to person. This is what makes it such a devastating disease.

There is currently no cure, but treatments are available to modify the course of the disease and ease some of the symptoms.

The Southern Tasmanian Multiple Sclerosis Longitudinal Study was a population-based cohort study involving 145 participants with relapsing-remitting MS from 2002 to 2005. 

Chief Investigator for the study, Menzies’ Associate Professor Bruce Taylor says that there is substantial evidence that indicates increased levels of sun exposure and vitamin D are associated with a lower risk of MS onset, i.e. a first attack.

“However, few factors have yet been identified that cause the onset of relapses in people already diagnosed with MS,” Associate Professor Taylor said.

“We found that higher levels of vitamin D are associated with a reduced likelihood of a relapse in MS.”

“The study demonstrates that for each 10nmol/l* increase in serum vitamin D dosage, there was up to a 12 per cent reduction in the likelihood of a relapse.” 

“Clinically, raising vitamin D levels by 50nmol/l could halve the hazard of a relapse.”

“Essentially, the study showed that people are more likely to have a relapse if they had low vitamin D levels.”

“These findings provide strong support for randomised clinical trials of vitamin D-based therapies for treating relapses in MS sufferers.”

Sean O’Moore has been living with MS for six years. He lives in Hobart with his wife Jill and their three young boys, Darragh, Rory and Lorcan.

Three of Sean’s sisters also have MS, and his mother was diagnosed with MS when he was just six years old.

“My biggest worry is my three boys. I worry about them all the time, even though they are all too young to be diagnosed with anything now.”

Funding bodies that supported this research include the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia and the Trish Foundation.


*Nmol/l = Nanamoles (nmol) per litre.

Photo:  Sean O’Moore lives in Hobart with his wife Jill and their three young boys, Darragh (front left), Rory (right) and Lorcan (back left). He has been living with MS for six years now