Background: Low vitamin D levels have been associated with an increased risk of multiple sclerosis (MS), although it remains unknown whether this relationship varies by age.
Objective: The objective of this paper is to investigate the association between vitamin D3 supplementation through cod liver oil at different postnatal ages and MS risk.
Methods: In the Norwegian component of the multinational case-control study Environmental Factors In Multiple Sclerosis (EnvIMS), a total of 953 MS patients with maximum disease duration of 10 years and 1717 controls reported their cod liver oil use from childhood to adulthood.
Results: Self-reported supplement use at ages 13-18 was associated with a reduced risk of MS (OR 0.67, 95% CI 0.52-0.86), whereas supplementation during childhood was not found to alter MS risk (OR 1.01, 95% CI 0.81-1.26), each compared to non-use during the respective period. An inverse association was found between MS risk and the dose of cod liver oil during adolescence, suggesting a dose-response relationship (p trend = 0.001) with the strongest effect for an estimated vitamin D3 intake of 600-800 IU/d (OR 0.46, 95% CI 0.31-0.70).
Conclusions: These findings not only support the hypothesis relating to low vitamin D as a risk factor for MS, but further point to adolescence as an important susceptibility period for adult-onset MS.
Keywords: Multiple sclerosis; age; cod liver oil; environmental risk factors; supplementation; susceptibility; timing; vitamin D.
© The Author(s), 2015.