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Could A Vitamin D Analog Significantly Reduce Fatigue?

Could A Vitamin D Analog Significantly Reduce Fatigue?

Fatigue is a troubling symptom for many MS patients. It can affect every aspect of a person’s life. I myself have experienced fatigue, and I have worked with dozens of patients who have trouble holding jobs and maintaining relationships because of crushing fatigue. Stimulant medications can be useful in counteracting symptoms, but as of now there are no medications specifically approved for the treatment of MS related fatigue. However, a recent study may have found a way to manage fatigue with a vitamin D analog called alfacalcidol. Before I go over the study I just want to review a little bit more about vitamin D since it has been such a hot topic in the MS world.

Vitamin D is not only a vitamin but also a hormone that is made by your body. It plays a role in calcium absorption, maintaining bone health, and it also has also been shown to contribute to a number of conditions such as osteoporosis, depression, and multiple sclerosis. Specifically, a deficiency of vitamin D has been shown to play a role in MS but we aren’t sure exactly what that role is. One hypothesis is that MS inflammation causes a destruction of vitamin D, and another is that low levels of Vitamin D lead to the development of MS. What we do know is that low vitamin D levels lead to more disease activity such as new lesions and muscle weakness. This is why many patients with MS have their vitamin D levels checked, and often take supplements. Vitamin D deficiencies are not just common among people with multiple sclerosis, but have been shown to occur in up to 77% of adults. Your skin needs to absorb sunlight on a regular basis in oder for your body to produce vitamin D so deficiencies are especially common in certain parts of the world, during the winter, and in people who regularly wear sunscreen before going outdoors.

While many neurologists have been busy studying the role of vitamin D in MS, Dr. Anat Achiron and his team at the Sheba Medical Center in Israel has been studying the effect of a vitamin D analog called alfacalcidol on fatigue. The abstract of their randomized, placebo-controlled trial was presented at a meeting of the American Academy of Neurology, but official data has not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal. So even though the results are considered to be preliminary until they are published, the data from the study is still very exciting!

Alfacacidol is a synthetic analog of vitamin D, which is a fancy way of saying we manufacture it in a lab like any other medication. The study included 158 patients ages 31-50, with EDSS scores ranging from 0-5.2. Of the patients enrolled, 92% had relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis. During the trial participants were given either alfacacidol or a placebo for 6 months and their fatigue level and quality of life was assessed at the beginning and at the end of the trial. On average the alfacacidol treated patients experienced a 41.6% reduction in fatigue after 6 months of treatment, and there were 8 relapses during the trial. The participants on the placebo medication reported a 27.% reduction in fatigue and there were 25 relapses.

Overall the result of the study was that the patients who received alfacacidol showed a dramatic decrease in fatigue levels, an increased quality of life, and had fewer relapses within the 6 month period. Another promising result of the study is that there were no side effects of alfacacidol treatment compared to the placebo. Based on this data Dr. Achiron’s and his team concluded that alfacacidol is both a safe and effective treatment of MS related fatigue. In an interview with MedPage Today Dr. Achiron noted that it is unclear whether over-the- counter vitamin D supplements would have the same benefits as alfacacidol, and trials with standard vitamin D are going on now.

Fatigue is one of the most common MS symptoms and to have a medication that could effectively reduced the burden of fatigue, while also being safe would certainly be great. I am looking forward to seeing more data, and to future studies. You can read the abstract of the study here.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.



  • Christie Germans
    6 years ago

    Thanks for writing this up. My neuro just significantly upped my Vitamin D dosage (50,000) and I hope to see the benefits, especially if there’s the chance that fatigue will decrease. Cheers to that!

  • Debbie
    6 years ago

    I started taking vitamin D 4 years ago to see how it affected the MS. I started taking 5,000IU every day for 2 weeks and then switched to every other day. Since I’ve been taking them, I’ve had no relapses/exacerbations, and my fatigue is not as bad as it was. I may take a nap 3X a week rather than every day.
    It has helped me, but that doesn’t mean it will help everyone. Also I take natural vitamin D, not the stuff you get in a corner drug store. I order it special from a place on line and so far it has done me well. No liver damage, or other blood disorders. All my blood counts and organ functions are normal.

  • RichG
    6 years ago

    Truth be told, vitamin D2 and D3 are man-made drugs, suitable for rat poison, not vitamins. And the University of Colorado reminded the scientific community of this danger when they published, “In fact, baits containing large quantities of vitamin D are used very effectively as rodenticides (rat poison).”

    Popular poisons Quintox and Rampage prove this. They contain less than 8 percent vitamin D per serving and will kill a rat in 1 to 4 days, which means vitamin D wouldn’t make it past clinical trials if it were treated like the drug it is!

    When ingested, synthetic vitamin D products mobilize calcium from the rodent’s bones into its bloodstream, producing hypercalcemia, kidney failure, central nervous system depression and heart failure – all signs of parathyroid dysfunction. Pigs fed vitamin D3 in doses equivalent to human intake suffer the same fate! And humans aren’t immune to “D danger.” this study is nothing but another pharmaceutical company trying to turn a vitamin into a drug for profit. Sorry

  • Lisa Y
    6 years ago

    I currently take 10,000 mg of over the counter Vit D daily. I also take Nuvigil (I break the 250 mg tablets into about 4-5 pieces, and take one daily, rarely but sometime two a day). My fatigue hasn’t been too bad over the last year or so, but I can’t say what has helped since I take both the Vit D and the Nuvigil. I’m not interested in stopping one or the other to find out – fatigue is horrible!

  • Nick
    6 years ago

    I sure would like to know more about this. If anyone has tried it I would love to hear about it

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