One of the main facts that every possible patient of Multiple Sclerosis needs to be aware of is that where you live might have something to add to the symptoms of your disease as well as to the incidence of this disease. This is because in addition to the ratio of polyunsaturated fats to saturated fats and the fat consumption in your body, research shows that height or latitude of the region where you live might have a role to play as well. The latitude will determine directly how much sun exposure you get in a day!
The Role of Vitamin D-Sunlight
The ‘sunshine vitamin’ or vitamin D helps to keep the bones and teeth of your body healthy by increasing the capacity of the body to absorb calcium. So in a way, vitamin D helps to keep our bones and our muscles strong, helping us in normal mobility and physical activity. Recent research suggests that the further away from the equator you live, the lesser healthy sun exposure you will get and the higher the chances that you may develop Multiple Sclerosis.
This is further evidenced by the fact that many people suffering from MS tend to have a diet that has higher levels of vitamin D. Vitamin D is especially important for such people to keep their bones healthy and strong. In addition to this, vitamin D plays another role of helping the immune system to fight inflammation by regulating the body’s immune system.
Research on Vitamin D and MS
In the Vitamin D theory proposed by Goldberg in 1974, the lack of this vitamin was believed to act as a trigger for MS in people whose bones and general health was not very strong. In 1986, Goldberg conducted a study with a small number of people to see the effect that vitamin D supplements would have on the progress of MS patients. Even though there was no control group and some of the patients dropped out, he found out that the number of relapses that patients suffered decreased after they started taking the supplements.
Another study conducted by Embry and colleagues in Germany found out that a high level of vitamin D in the body was associated with lower MS activity. The study also recommended doctors to start giving their Multiple Sclerosis patients, supplements of 3000-4000 U per day throughout the year.
While your doctor will keep you aware regarding the amounts of vitamin D that your body will need in order to help keep your bones strong, it is a good idea to keep yourself informed as well. The evidence concerning the linkage between MS and vitamin D or sunlight exposure is quite convincing especially since the disease is linked to the functioning of the immune system and the patient’s overall mobility. Even so, a therapy that involves sun exposure or UV exposure should take care not to exceed the healthy limits of UV. And if you reside in a cold place, then you should also be taking vitamin D supplements as per the advice of your physician.