It has been theorized for a long time that there might a link between the two conditions, but genetic low vitamin D levels and multiple sclerosis go together to a near certainty, according to a new study.
The connection has been merely suggested in previous studies, but they were flawed in the sense that they could have attributed the cause of multiple sclerosis (MS) to more factors than just vitamin D efficiency. The cause-and-effect is still not clear, though a strong link has been found between sunshine’s vitamin and the crippling condition.
Multiple sclerosis implies the immune system in our own body attacking the nervous system, and disrupting the communication. It can result to physical and mental problems, along with occurrence of psychiatric conditions, and it’s currently the most common autoimmune disorder that has no known cause.
The scientists at McGill University in Montreal took the study within their hands and saw to 34,000 participants, looking into their genetic markets that unfortunately labeled them as prone to vitamin D deficiency. It’s not a matter solely caused by lack of sunshine or supplements, but an issue that could be developed by genetic predisposition.
Another 14,500 people participated who were diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, along with 24,000 posing as the control group in order to rule out any environmental factors. They were all tested for the same genetic variants that lead to low levels of vitamin D, and found four markers.
The results showed that those who had at least one or more of the genetic variants were much more vulnerable to developing multiple sclerosis. Researchers have also tried to find if the effects and benefits of vitamin D can prevent or at least alleviate the symptoms of multiple sclerosis, and did find a slight relief.
There is a certain connection found between the way vitamin D affects the body and MS, but there are still many unanswered questions. According to Dr. Brent Richards, co-author of the study, there is also the possibility of their link to be labeled as ‘reverse causation’. People with multiple sclerosis tend to stay more indoors due to their conditions, which results in less sunlight intake, so their vitamin D levels are understandably lower.
It has also been observed that while MS is more common in women than men, it’s also more frequently diagnosed in regions that are often cloudy and see less sunshine.
The conclusion of the study has informed the medical community that there are indeed four genetic markers that predispose patients to vitamin D deficiency, which is also found in those suffering from multiple sclerosis. Further research is needed, but it’s a hopeful step for future treatment plans and possible prevention.
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