Healthy Living

How Quitting Smoking and Maintaining Vitamin D Can Improve Multiple Sclerosis

How Quitting Smoking and Maintaining Vitamin D Can Improve Multiple Sclerosis

How Quitting Smoking and Maintaining Vitamin D Can Improve Multiple Sclerosis

Smoking has been linked to numerous adverse health outcomes such as various types of cancer, lung disorders, heart disease, oral health issues, and more. Research has also shown that quitting smoking can has a positive effect on multiple sclerosis (MS) progression. It turns out that boosting vitamin D levels can also improve MS outcomes. 

When dealing with a chronic and progressive illness, maintaining optimal health is always a good idea. Exercising within your ability, eating right, and avoiding things that are hazardous to your health can help your body heal and improve your health outcomes. With MS it is no different.

A recent article published in Multiple Sclerosis News Today highlights how MS patients who quit smoking have better health outcomes than those who do not. Researchers shared their results from a recent literature review where they analyzed data that shows how smoking and low vitamin D levels can contribute to MS complications. During this analysis they looked at the “Value of Treatment” (VoT) project which is designed to make recommendations for patient care that is based in sound evidence, is patient focused, and geared specifically towards people with brain disorders such as MS. An additional goal of the project is to provide a model for sustainable and coordinated care. To analyze the effect that quitting smoking has on MS, researchers devised a model that compares the level of disability among MS patients who had quit smoking to MS patients who continued. They also looked at how likely the patients were to progress from relapsing MS to secondary progressive MS. These same researchers looked at differences in patients who worked to raise their vitamin D levels (a vitamin in which a large portion of the population has deficiencies) and those who did not.

Their results showed that among the MS population, people who quit smoking and raised their vitamin D levels had better health outcomes. They used a tool that takes into account the quality of life of an individual and the number of years he or she has lived with a disease, to measure the outcomes.

The evidence

The National MS Society emphasizes that smoking may increase MS risk. They report that in 2003 a Norwegian study showed that the risk of developing MS among smokers was significantly higher than it was in non-smokers. They also cite numerous sources that show that smoking can make MS worse, not just lead to its development. One of the ways in which smoking was shown to affect the progression of MS is through identification of link between smoking and brain tissue damage.

Researchers in Lancet Neurology confirm that adequate Vitamin D levels can not only help slow the progression of MS, but can also prevent it. They acknowledge the need for more research, but explain that there is strong evidence that vitamin D concentrations in late adolescence and young adulthood affect the risk of an individual developing MS. They claim that the evidence for healthy vitamin D levels affecting the progression of MS is not as substantial as the evidence showing its effect on prevention. Nevertheless, given the safety of taking vitamin D in high doses, developing studies to see how supplementation affects people with MS could be beneficial. 

Read on to learn more about these important connections and what they mean for people living with MS.