The question about vitamin D and MS has been around for quite awhile. Researchers have found that if you have lower levels of vitamin D, you may be at a higher risk of developing multiple sclerosis. When it comes to children, this can hopefully show if your child is at risk. And possibly you can do something about it.
The studies that show MS is more likely to occur in people who live farther away from the equator, makes sense. Vitamin D is sometimes called the "sunshine vitamin". Your body makes it when you are out in the sun.
Ultraviolet rays from the sun hit your skin and vitamin D synthesis begins. Researchers have also linked this vitamin with your immune system.
So, the farther away from the equator you live, the less sun you will get. The less vitamin D your body (or your child's) will be able to make. The lower the levels of D available in your body.
"In MS, the immune system is mis-regulated, and we do know that there's a susceptibility in the genes we inherit from our parents. We know that something triggers the disease," explained Patricia O'Looney, vice president of biomedical research at the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
"We know from epidemiological studies that there's a higher prevalence of MS the farther away you live from the equator and, more recently, we've learned that vitamin D does regulate the immune system."
"This is an interesting study of how environmental triggers and the immune system can be involved with MS, provided that one has these susceptibility genes," she added.
"Many studies have given us a good link between vitamin D status and immune function in MS," added study author Heather E. Hanwell, a doctoral candidate in nutritional sciences at the University of Toronto. "We wanted to see whether vitamin D status was lower in children who had their first demyelinating event and were subsequently diagnosed with MS.
University of Toronto
A first demyelinating event or an attack of symptoms like optical neuritis, unexplained tingling, or tickling points to the nervous system. These events signal that there may be problems with your central nervous system or CNS. Twenty-five percent of children who have an event like this will go on to eventually develop multiple sclerosis.
Researchers measured levels of vitamin D in children who had a demyelinating event. They found that they were lower than normal in the children who went on to develop MS.
More studies are being done to find out whether adding supplements can help lower the risk. We have strongly suggested that our children, even though they aren't very young, take extra vitamin D.
Who knows, maybe vitamin D and MS are linked. We think that there is something in the fact that places with more sunshine, have a lower incidence of MS. In our society, children as well as young adults, don't get as much sun as we used to years ago.
Sunny days are in short supply here where we live. Out of 365 days, only about 50 are bright, sunny, clear days. We take walks whenever the weather is nice. During the summer, we spend many days at the zoo. Hopefully our children and grandchild won't ever have to live with this devastating disease. Hopefully the relationship between vitamin D and MS (or should I say, not getting MS), will be the key.
We hope that the cause of MS will soon be discovered and all of the puzzle pieces put in to place. No one should ever have to live life with multiple sclerosis or an other disease.
The more research is done into the link between vitamin D and MS, the better. Get to work guys!
Is there another source of vitamin D?