Vitamin D and Seizures

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Seizures are very common and can range from a one time oddity in someone’s life to a daily debilitating disease. All too often it is the latter. I have had countless patients who have been on 3 or more anti-seizure medications and tried multiple combinations and even had devices implanted into their brains in attempts to control their seizures.

A study done in Budapest by Dr. Hollo et al. looked at 13 patients who had medication resistant epilepsy and supplemented them with Vitamin D3. They found in the 90 days after the vitamin D was started compared to the 90 days before it was started seizure frequency was decreased by 40%. That is a huge number and would be considered impressive even for a FDA approved seizure drug.

The link between vitamin D deficiency and seizures was known before this. In 2010 at University of Michigan they looked at children with seizures and found that only 25% had what could be considered normal Vitamin D levels with a very low cut-off of 32 ng/mL. And 25% of the kids had levels that were less than 20.

If you go back even further in 1974 a study was done on 23 inpatients with seizures who were given vitamin D2 or placebo and a statistically significant decrease in seizures was noted in the Vitamin D group.

Despite this growing promising evidence no large studies have been done and I have never seen any neurologists at the institutions I trained or practiced at ever check Vitamin D levels or recommend vitamin D to patients. Not even in those patients taking multiple medications and considering surgery for their seizures have I seen it recommended. And Vitamin D is MUCH safer than any of the very side effect heavy seizures medications.

This must be looked into immediately with a large randomized trial. The safety of vitamin D3 up to doses as high as even 5000 units a day has already been well established so safety trials do not even have to be done. A well designed randomized controlled trial could be done easily given the very large number of seizure patients. Given that the first study was done almost 40 years ago I think it is long overdue.

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