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Thursday 20th June 2019

MS slowed by vitamin D

8th February 2011

Getting adequate vitamin D and spending more hours in the sunshine can fend off the development of multiple sclerosis (MS), according to a recent Australian study.


Robyn Lucas, a doctor at the Australian National University, said that her team's study was the first to focus on vitamin D, sun exposure, and symptoms of developing MS.

However, the fact that people know they have MS means that they might begin to take vitamins following diagnosis, made it difficult to study.

Alberto Ascherio, who studies MS at the Harvard School of Public Health, said that people changed their lifestyles after being diagnosed with MS.

Multiple sclerosis is defined as a chronic progressive nervous disorder involving loss of myelin sheath around certain nerve fibres.

Ascherio also said that, while vitamin D and sun exposure played concurrent roles in the body, it was hard to separate one from the other.

For the study, researchers picked 216 adults who began to show signs of MS, then recruited 395 people with no signs of the disease, from the same geographical region.

All of the people told the researchers about their sun habits, and the researchers then measured their skin for signs of UV damage.

On average, the people with MS had less overall sun exposure.

Since greater sun exposure leads to higher vitamin D levels, the researchers believe this might explain that difference.

Lucas said that the study showed small amounts of sun exposure were probably optimal both for maintaining vitamin D levels and for other health effects.

Thomas Mack, who studies MS at the University of Southern California and was not involved in the recent study, said previous studies had shown people's risk of developing MS went up as their distance from the equator increased.

MS symptoms include problems with balance and muscle coordination, sometimes memory loss, and trouble with logical thinking. 


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