Vitamin D Levels May Help Predict Risk Of Multiple Sclerosis – Forbes
Checking the level of vitamin D in your blood could help identify and assess whether you are at risk of developing multiple sclerosis , according to a new study published online yesterday in the journal Neurology.
Multiple sclerosis, abbreviated MS, is a disease which occurs when the body’s immune system attacks myelin , the fatty coating of the nerves in the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves. This can result in weakness, visual problems and loss of balance and bladder control, not to mention numbness and tingling, chronic pain and depression.
The disease has a variable course with some patients experiencing mild symptoms requiring minimal to no medical treatment, while in severe cases it may lead to paralysis and blindness.
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It is well known that there is a relationship between higher levels of sun exposure (sunlight is the most efficient source of Vitamin D) and lower risk of developing MS, as people who live farther from the equator have a higher incidence of MS. It is for this reason that Vitamin D is well regarded as anti- inflammatory, or boosting the immune system.
“There have only been a few small studies suggesting that levels of vitamin D in the blood can predict risk,” said study author Kassandra Munger, ScD, of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston. “Our study, involving a large number of women, suggests that correcting vitamin D deficiency in young and middle-age women may reduce their future risk of MS.”
As part of prenatal blood testing, researchers evaluated blood samples from over 800,000 women in Finland. The investigators identified 1,092 women who were diagnosed with MS an average of nine years after giving the blood samples. They were compared to 2,123 women who did not develop MS.
Deficient levels of vitamin D were defined as fewer than 30 nanomoles per liter (nmol/L). Insufficient levels were 30 to 49 nmol/L and adequate levels were 50 nmol/L or higher.