Overview:

Researchers and the medical community currently do not know exactly what causes MS however it is thought that it may be a combination of factors including genetics and a viral component.  Research and statistics have shown several things that appear as they may influence whether a person may develop MS including vitamin D deficiancy.

These include:

  • The individuals sex. Women are more likely than men to have MS and thus hormones may have a role in disease development.
  • Ethnicity, Caucasians develop MS more than other ethnic groups however the disease is often more severe in other ethnic groups when it does develop.
  • While MS may develop at any age most commonly it is diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 40.
  • Where a person born appears to have influence as MS is much more prevalent north of the Earth’s equator than south. Its is thought this may be related to Vitamin D levels.
  • When a person is born seasonally may affect sunlight amounts an melatonin amounts.

Vitamin D And Multiple Sclerosis:

Our bodies manufacture vitamin D when the sun’s ultraviolet B (UVB) rays interact with 7-dehydrocholesterol (7-DHC) present in the skin.  A short exposure 10 to 20 minutes of direct sunlight daily produces enough vitamin D to avoid deficiency.  Most people diagnosed with multiple sclerosis appear to have a vitamin d deficiency according to research studies.

“We can produce only a limited amount of vitamin D from UVB. A few minutes at midday are sufficient for many Caucasians,” says Roy Geronemus, MD, clinical professor of dermatology at New York University Medical Center and director of the Skin/Laser Division at the New York Eye & Ear Infirmary. “After reaching the production limit, further exposure actually destroys the vitamin, decreasing vitamin D levels.”

This fact that over exposure to sunlight is often neglected when reading about vitamin D and MS.  Additionally some research has suggested that vitamin D may be utilized to slow disease progression.  Over exposure to sunlight (UVB) according to skin cancer research appears to have a immune-suppressive effect on the immune system.

These seemingly conflicting areas of research result in confusion as to exactly what vitamin D’s role is in disease development or progression.

What the researchers have found is that those who get more sun exposure early and throughout life have lower chances of developing MS. Whether this is because they produce more vitamin D and that’s what helps prevent MS, or whether the sun is helping for some other reason, researchers do not know for sure.

Much research has taken place and continues to take place of the role of vitamin D and the course of MS.

Key points in research thus far:

  • People diagnosed with MS tend to have lower blood levels of vitamin D than other healthy people of their age.
  • Researchers don’t know if it’s vitamin D or some other beneficial effect of sunlight that leads to fewer people developing MS in sunny places.
  • It’s not clear if vitamin D is helpful in the prevention or treatment of MS, or both. Some researchers believe that the amount of vitamin D you get early on in your life is most important for your risk of developing MS as an adult. Once you have the disease some researchers believe that taking additional vitamin D may not help.
  • Most of the studies testing vitamin D supplements for the treatment of MS looked at small numbers of people. This makes it difficult to know what the effect of vitamin D is.
  • Research studies have used different amounts of vitamin D, so it’s difficult to know how much vitamin D people would have to take to have an effect.
  • How people respond to vitamin D may be affected by their genes.
  • Vitamin D appears to have a role in remyelination (repair of damaged neurons)

Summary:

Research and statistics point towards a linkage between vitamin D and multiple sclerosis and more research is underway.

If you wish to learn more about vitamin D and MS click the link below

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