Low Vitamin D genes may cause multiple sclerosis

People genetically prone to have low Vitamin D are more likely to suffer from disabling disease multiple sclerosis.

Previous studies have revealed that the disease is more common in less sunny countries, further from the equator. Now scientists have demonstrated a genetic correlation that points strongly to a causal link. The researchers at McGill University compared the prevalence of multiple sclerosis in a large group of Europeans with and without a genetic predisposition to low Vitamin D.

Canadian researchers analyzed the genetic makeup of more than 38,000 men and women, including 14,498 people with multiple sclerosis and 24,091 healthy volunteers. The study found that people with genetically lower Vitamin D levels face double the risk of getting the demyelinating disease, which is often diagnosed between age 20 and 50.

“The identification of Vitamin D as a casual susceptibility factor for MS may have important public health implications and Vitamin D supplementation is both relatively safe and cost-effective,” said Dr. Brent Richards, who led the study.

Vitamin D generated by sunlight is biologically inactive; activation requires enzymatic conversion in the liver and kidney. The fat-soluble vitamin has a significant role in calcium homeostasis and metabolism. The sunshine vitamin has a number of health benefits especially bone health and anticancer properties. Other sources include fish oil, eggs, cereals.

Multiple sclerosis is the most common autoimmune disease affecting the central nervous system, which damages nerve fibers. It occurs when the immune system attacks the protective myelin sheath that surrounds the nerve fibers and acts as an insulator. As a result, nerve signals are disrupted causing wide range of symptoms ranging from mild tingling sensations to full-blown paralysis. Most common symptoms include blurred vision, slurred speech, tremors, extreme fatigue, and memory problems. IMAGE/dietdoctor.com

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