MS, which affects more than 2.3 million people worldwide, occurs when the immune system attacks the protective myelin sheath that surrounds nerve fibers and acts as an insulator.
People who are genetically predisposed to have low vitamin D levels are at increased risk of multiple sclerosis (MS), according to a large study published in the online journal Public Library of Science Medicine.
Researchers analyzed the DNA of nearly 34,000 participants. In a comparison between those with MS and healthy individuals, the researchers found that people whose genetic makeup was associated with a lack of vitamin D were at least twice as likely to have MS.
The authors, led by Dr. Brent Richards from McGill University in Canada, said this about the study:
“[It provides] strong evidence in support of a causal role of vitamin D in MS susceptibility. Whether vitamin D sufficiency can delay or prevent multiple sclerosis onset merits further investigation in long-term randomised controlled trials.”
These findings may provide insight into rates of MS, a potentially disabling auto-immune disease that damages nerve fibres, are higher in high-latitude regions that received less sunshine, such as northern Europe and parts of Canada.
MS, which affects more than 2.3 million people worldwide, occurs when the immune system attacks the protective myelin sheath that surrounds nerve fibers and acts as an insulator. Nerve signals are disrupted, leading to symptoms that can range from mild tingling sensations to full-blown paralysis. The most common symptoms are overwhelming fatigue, visual disturbances, altered sensation and difficulties with mobility.