A new study point out that low vitamin D levels in one’s system might lead to multiple sclerosis. The study was published in PLoS Medicine on August 27th.
It seems that some people are predisposed to have too little vitamin D in their systems, due to their genetic material, therefore they risk developing multiple sclerosis.
Vitamin D is the “sunshine vitamin”, as it derives from sunlight exposure, and it helps the growth and development of teeth and bones. It is also known that in countries or areas with less sunlight, people are inclined to have less vitamin D in their systems, but scientists have also been looking for other environmental factors that would influence this predisposition.
Multiple sclerosis damages the central nervous system, and causes muscular weakness and loss of coordination and speech and partial paralysis. Another symptom includes visual disturbances. Multiple sclerosis is due to the fact that myelin, covering nerve fibers, is destroyed, which may occur throughout the brain or spinal cord.
Associate professor at McGill University in Montreal, and co-author of the study, Dr. Brent Richards, explained that, despite the fact that the association was difficult to prove and still needed further study, people who took vitamin D supplements were prone to leave behind natural activities that would be due to increase vitamin D levels in their systems.
Moreover, Dr. Richards said that people suffering from this medical condition were inclined to spend more time indoors, which further decreased the vitamin D in their systems. Therefore, vitamin D and multiple sclerosis might be correlated due to reverse causation.
The scientific team made use of previous data conducted on 34,000 individuals. They discovered four versions of genetic material linked to low vitamin D levels. They drew a comparison in between previous data and their analysis of 14,500 sufferers of multiple sclerosis.
Dr. Richards reported that their method was named Mendelian randomization, which excluded individuals’ lifestyle factors to be the cause of the chronic illness, but it was rather a matter of genetics.
The health experts’ research finally pointed out that the deficiency in vitamin D was linked to those four DNA variants. Therefore, people displaying one of the genetic variants might develop multiple sclerosis later on in life.
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