Last month I wrote an article outlining the basics of vitamin D in the article entitled Get To Know Vitamin D.
The vital importance of having adequate amounts of vitamin D for optimal health, has by now been proven by many doctors, scientists and studies. I do not think there is anyone out there who would argue that.
Having an adequate supply of vitamin D has been linked to healthy teeth, healthy bones, decrease in osteoporosis, healthy immune system, decrease in overall infections, prevention of breast cancer and prostate cancer as well as many other cancers.
Well the latest research is out and this super-hero-vitamin has now been linked to protecting us against autoimmune disease such as multiple sclerosis.
Multiple Sclerosis Facts & Stats
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a type of chronic autoimmune disease, where the immune system attacks parts of the body. In the case of MS, the body strips the protective coating around nerve cells in the process of demyelination, thus it is considered a disease of the central nervous system.
Since the protective coating around nerve cells is removed, nerve cells can no longer communicate efficiently and send signals and messages from one to another, hence this causes significant disability in people who get it.
Although it is currently not exactly known what causes the disease, several theories are being considered including diet, sun exposure, and pathogen (disease-causing agents) exposure, just to name a few.
There is also no medical cure for the disease at the present time, although approved treatments are available to slow the progression of MS and offer improved quality of life.
- Approximately 350,000 to 400,000 (1 in 700) people in the United States have been diagnosed with MS
- Most people experience their first symptoms of MS between 20 and 40 years of age
- Symptoms rarely begin before 15 or after 60 years of age
- Whites are more than twice as likely to develop MS
- Women are almost twice as likely than men to develop MS
- North America and Europe have the highest world incidence of MS (see the World Map of MS prevalence)
- MS is extremely rare in tropical areas
The Latest Research
According to an article by Sylvia Christakos, PhD, of the UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School, vitamin D, the principal regulator of calcium in the body, may protect against specific autoimmune disorders including multiple sclerosis (MS).
In the article, Christakos reports that research shows that the incidence of MS decreases as the amount of vitamin D available to the body increases.
Based on my article on vitamin D, remember that you can get adequate vitamin D either through sunlight exposure or your diet. Although supplements are also possible, remember these are not your body’s first choice as they are synthetic sources.
In her article, Christakos states that MS is for the most part, unknown in equatorial regions and that the prevalence of the disease is lower in areas where fish consumption is high.
Christakos also noted that, since vitamin D is produced in the skin through solar or UV irradiation and high serum levels have been shown to correlate with a reduced risk of MS, this suggests that vitamin D may regulate your immune response and may enhance a person’s reaction to disease causing agents.
Therefore the report emphasizes the importance of maintaining a sufficient vitamin D level.
On a side note however, despite the significant evidence of the benefits of vitamin D relative to MS and other autoimmune diseases, Christakos cautions that further studies are needed to determine whether vitamin D alone or combined with other treatments is effective in individuals with active MS.
The study is available online in the Journal of Cellular Biochemistry.
Despite the fact that Dr. Christakos cautions that further studies are necessary, there is no doubt in my mind as the importance and healing properties of vitamin D.
Remember, science can guide us in a specific direction, but nature offers us indisputable, first hand lessons and solutions, where our life needs are concerned. Thus, even if one looks at this from a common sense perspective, you can see that from an evolutionary stand point human beings spent a lot of time in the outdoors. Today, many of us barely see the light of day on a weekly basis, between jobs, cars, stores and our homes.
There is thus, not a doubt in my mind that to prevent MANY serious illnesses such as cancers and autoimmune disease and maintain overall good health, sunlight exposure is key.
As I outlined in the Get To Know Vitamin D article, really only 10-15 minutes a day are sufficient intake for the average person. And before you protest that you do not have the time, consider what your days might look like with a debilitating disease.
Now in case some of you have not read the other articles I wrote about sun exposure, sunscreens and skin cancer, let me quickly summarize for you that no one is asking you here to sit in the sun for hours. It is simply 15 minutes of sunlight a day, but of course be smart about it, such as do not go out in the peak hours of sunlight where chances of skin damage are higher.
As well, your exposure cannot be inhibited by any kind of sunscreen. Even during peak and prolonged sun exposure, remember that chemical sunscreens can submit you to an increased risk of skin and other cancers. For more information regarding this topic refer to the Sun Smart Series.
In her study Christakos also mentions a high intake of fish. Now although this was a great option perhaps 50 or 100 years ago, it is no longer an optimal way of getting your vitamin D as almost all fish today come from polluted waters and have high concentrations of metals and other toxins in them that are harmful to our health.
So whether you want to prevent or treat multiple sclerosis or just plain stay healthy, remember to get some sun each day, as that will put you and your health well on its way!