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High doses of Vitamin D may help ease symptoms of Lou Gehrig’s Disease: York U study

Toronto, Feb. 7, 2013 – High doses of Vitamin D have been shown to temporarily ease symptoms of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) or Lou Gehrig’s disease, according to a new study out of York University.

The study, published in the peer-reviewed journal PLoS One, examined the effects of high doses of Vitamin D on ALS in living organisms – in this case mice. It showed that when Vitamin D was introduced into the diet at fifty times the adequate intake, the disease-affected mice exhibited improved functional performance.

“ALS is a fast-progressing neuromuscular disease with no known cure at this time, and the median survival rate is two to five years after symptoms appear,” says first author Alexandro Gianforcaro, MSc graduate from York’s School of Kinesiology & Health Science.

The results of this study are in line with an earlier pilot study out of York that showed improvement in muscle endurance and motor performance in mice at just ten times the adequate intake of Vitamin D, and a study published in PLoS One by the same lab that found that Vitamin D deficiency compromises these same functional outcomes/measures.

“We are the only group in Canada that is looking at the connection between dietary interventions and the effects on the ALS living models,” says lead author Mazen Hamadeh, professor in York’s School of Kinesiology & Health Science. “With this study we have found definite improvement in both motor performance and endurance, but no change to disease outcomes, such as onset, progression or lifespan.”

Though this latest mouse model is promising, Hamadeh says further research is needed before applying the results to human subjects. He and his team are now working on understanding the molecular mechanisms that are causing these beneficial effects.

For more information about nutrition research in ALS at York, please see Professor Hamadeh’s website.

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Media Contact: Robin Heron, Media Relations, York University, 416 736 2100 x22097 / rheron@yorku.ca