Research has uncovered a link between having low vitamin D and the development of multiple sclerosis. Sometimes called the ‘sunshine vitamin’ because most people get their daily vitamin D from exposing their skin to the sun. It seems only logical that previous research shows that cases of multiple sclerosis are higher in countries which experience the least amount of sunlight.
For the study, DNA profiles of tens of thousands of individuals of European descent were analyzed. Researchers are already in the process of testing individuals who receive additional vitamin D as a means of prevention or treatment of multiple sclerosis.
Aside from the theory that vitamin D deficiency may contribute to multiple sclerosis, vitamin D is essential for the body in other ways, such as bone and heart health.
Research was conducted by McGill University in Canada where prevalence of multiple sclerosis was compared among Europeans with and without a genetic predisposition for low vitamin D.
The findings revealed individuals with low blood levels – a marker of vitamin D deficiency – have a greater risk of developing multiple sclerosis compared to individuals without the genes.
Dr. Susan Kohlhaas, from the MS Society, said, “There are many unanswered questions around what causes MS, so this large scale study is an exciting step towards understanding more about the complex nature of the genetic and environmental factors that contribute to it.”
Although the findings show promising new areas of research in regards to multiple sclerosis, researchers suggest if you are planning on upping your intake of vitamin D ensure you consult your doctor first; vitamin D in excess can lead to negative side effects.
Multiple sclerosis is most common among people in Europe, North America, New Zealand and Australia. MS is an autoimmune disease (meaning the immune system attacks its own healthy cells) that attacks healthy nerves which lead to damage and can greatly affect mobility.
Multiple sclerosis is twice as common in women, odds which are also seen in other autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis.
The findings were published in PLoS Medicine.
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