Low vitamin D levels linked to increased multiple sclerosis risk
"Lack of vitamin D may cause multiple sclerosis, study finds," reports the Guardian. A large study found people genetically programmed to have lower vitamin D levels are at an increased risk of multiple sclerosis (MS).
MS is a condition where the immune system attacks the coating of nerves in the brain and spinal cord, leading to symptoms such as vision loss, fatigue, and difficulties with balance and co-ordination.
Our body makes vitamin D under the skin in reaction to sunlight. We also get small amounts of the vitamin from our diet in foods such as eggs and oily fish.
A link between vitamin D deficiency and an increased risk of MS has long been suspected, as the condition is more common in areas of the world with less sunlight, such as northern Scotland. But it has been difficult to prove cause and effect because other factors may be involved.
This study used a genetic approach believed to be less susceptible to the problem of confounding – where other factors influence the results.
The researchers learned four genetic variants influence vitamin D levels found in the blood. People can have different combinations of these genetic variations. They found people with a combination of the genetic variations giving them lower levels of vitamin D had double the risk of MS.
But what the study does not tell us is whether MS could be prevented in those at higher risk by increasing their vitamin D levels through taking supplements or other methods.
category:Healthy Living Pharmacy