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Multiple Sclerosis Linked To Vitamin D Deficiency

Multiple Sclerosis has no known cure and no one common cause to date, but a recent study has opened doors to new information on some of the possible underlying reasons for MS to begin. One of these is a vitamin D deficiency. Medical News Today writes: “MS is an autoimmune disease that affects the central nervous system. It is hard to predict, its rate of progress is difficult to figure and researches do not fully understand its causes. It is the most widespread disabling and permanent neurological condition affecting young adults across the world. A number of genetic and environmental factors influence whether a person will develop the condition. These factors may also impact the severity of the disease.”

This latest research was documented by Dr. Brent Richards from McGill University. He and his team followed the patterns of the disease in patients around the world to find that there is a definite correlation between the lack of vitamin D and the risks of diagnosis with MS. The study differs from others which have tried to set out and prove similar findings due to its ability to pinpoint the deficiency as a possible reason for the MS, rather than just a similarity between cases.

New Research

What Dr. Richards and his team did to determine this latest medical announcement was go through the data from an international study. There were more than 2,300 participants, all with MS. What the findings represented to the team was that all of those with lower vitamin D in their bloodstream, especially those of European ancestry, were at a higher risk of contracting the disease. This has offered a hope for new preventative treatments in the form of supplements and more outdoor activities for those who fall into these categories. Vitamin D treatments will need to be regulated and approved by a medical practitioner as they can be dangerous in large doses. The Mayo Clinic writes: “If you are diagnosed with vitamin D deficiency, it may be appropriate to use up to 50,000 IUs weekly for up to three months until your vitamin D levels become normal, and then switch to a maintenance dose. Very large doses of vitamin D over an extended period can result in toxicity. Signs and symptoms include nausea, vomiting, constipation, poor appetite, weakness and weight loss. In addition, vitamin D toxicity can lead to elevated levels of calcium in your blood, which can result in kidney stones.”

The effects of vitamin D on MS isn’t completely explained by scientists as of yet, but the basis for many hypothesis reflects the idea that vitamin D plays a large role in immune system health. Multiple Sclerosis is a progressive and chronic autoimmune disease, so anything that could ultimately cause favorable changes to the immune system could be beneficial overall.

MS And Its Symptoms

Multiple Sclerosis is usually first noticed during early adulthood, anywhere between the age of twenty and forty, although it has been found in patients younger and older. If found early enough, symptoms can be treated, and the disease can be halted from progressing faster. But it cannot be cured completely. Blurry vision, stiff limbs, numbness, tingling, and tremors are often apparent, even in early cases, but it is rare for two patients to experience the same symptoms at the same time due to the irregularity of the disease in which nerves are exposed first. Web MD explains: “People with MS often say they feel a “pins and needles” sensation. They may also have numbness, itching, burning, stabbing, or tearing pains. About half of people with MS have these uncomfortable symptoms. Fortunately, they can be managed or treated.”

If individuals aren’t diagnosed or treated early enough, symptoms will worsen. In severe cases, patients may need to use a wheelchair due to stiffening limbs and an inability to walk. As more and more myelin is attacked by the immune system due to the disease causing the body to malfunction, more symptoms will appear. Some cases see few symptoms at all early on and then experience more extreme symptoms when the disease has progressed to a point where it is easier to discern them.

The new research regarding vitamin D and MS couldn’t have come at a better time, with so many seeking assistances in controlling their disease, and hoping against hope that it won’t be passed on to future generations. The idea that supplements and additional exposure to the sun could prevent MS in the families of those who have already developed symptoms is a huge step in this field of medicine. There may not be a cure, but having a form of prevention, even one that is not one hundred percent efficient is better than having none at all.

If you are experiencing symptoms like the ones mentioned above, or you have MS in your family and are wondering about your own levels of vitamin D, speak to a physician as soon as possible.

Claudette Zaremba, M.D.

Claudette Zaremba, M.D. is Board Certified in Family Medicine and practices Psychiatry in Alaska. Dr. Zaremba graduated Cum Laude in 1987 with a degree in Biology from the University of Houston and received her medical degree from the University of Texas Medical Branch in 1992, she went on to complete her Family Practice Residency at Dartmouth College in 2002 and completed her Psychiatry Residency at the University of California San Francisco in 1993. Dr. Zaremba is a member of the American Board of Family Medicine as well as the American Medical Association. Dr. Zaremba takes a holistic approach (“Whole Body”) to practicing medicine and believes good health starts with preventative medicine, Dr. Zaremba enjoys doing teleconsults and has been conducting teleconsults for the past several years. View the bio in detail.

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