Multiple Sclerosis is an autoimmune disease that effects the nerve connections between the body and brain. Myelin, the fatty and protective sheaths around the brain axons and the spinal cord, are attacked by the body’s own immune system. This results in disrupting the signaling between the brain and body.
Currently there is no cure for multiple sclerosis. The disease may slow down, but it often returns in the form of relapses. Once damage occurs, its permanent. This neurological disease is devastating for many and much research has been done to see if there is a way to prevent multiple sclerosis from occurring.
Researchers are finding that vitamin D may help in preventing multiple sclerosis, as well as preventing a relapse of MS.
Lack of Vitamin D and Multiple Sclerosis
Vitamin D is commonly known as the “sunshine vitamin” because a person is able to get the vitamin by being exposed to sunlight. Researchers from the University of Oxford believe that vitamin D may play a role in preventing multiple sclerosis.
They have found that people born in the spring have a significantly higher risk of developing multiple sclerosis later in life. Mothers that give birth in spring often are exposed to significantly less sunlight during their pregnancy, which means less vitamin D for the mother and the developing fetus.
They have found that the children that are born in November through May have smaller risk of developing multiple sclerosis. The researchers attribute this to their mothers being exposed to more sunlight during their pregnancy.
In countries like Scotland and other northern countries that receive very little sunlight, they have some of the highest rates of multiple sclerosis in the world.
The researchers believe that Vitamin D affects a specific gene that is associated with causing multiple sclerosis. In order to prevent MS, the doctors recommend that pregnant mothers and young children take Vitamin D supplements.
Professor George Ebers led the study done at the University of Oxord. Professor Ebers says, “”It is plausible that some 200 cases a year of MS might be prevented in Scotland alone by giving vitamin D to mothers and children.”
Vitamin D and Prevent Multiple Sclerosis Relapses
The University of Toronto did a study to see the effect that Vitamin D plays in preventing a relapse of multiple sclerosis.
49 people with MS participated in the study. 25 of the people took 14,000 IU of Vitamin D daily, for one year. After the year was over, 16% of the participants had experienced a relapse of multiple sclerosis.
In comparison, 24 of the participants received only 1,000 IU of Vitamin D daily, for one year. After the year was over, 41% of these participants had experienced a relapse of MS.
MS is caused by the autoimmune system attacking the myelin. Essentially, the T-cells run out of control and attack the sheets. They found that when participants took high levels of Vitamin D (14,000 IU daily), the T-cells were less active.
In comparison, those that took lower doses of Vitamin D (1,000 IU daily), didn’t experience a drop in how active the T-cells were.
Preventing Multiple Sclerosis: Vitamin D and Seasonal Births
Preventing Multiple Sclerosis: Vitamin D as Treatment
Preventing Multiple Sclerosis: Stopping a Relapse