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Vitamin D and Multiple Sclerosis — the preventive mechanism unveiled

The connection between vitamin D deficiency and the risk of acquiring Multiple Sclerosis was discovered more than 30 years ago.1 Scientists had noticed that the incidence of MS correlated positively with geographical latitude and negatively with the amount of vitamin D in the diet. The latitude effect was also explainable in terms of vitamin D, since the body synthesizes vitamin D in the skin in response to sunlight, which is more plentiful near the equator than at higher latitudes.

Since then, almost 200 medical research articles have been published on the subject. The correlation is firmly established, and studies of vitamin D usage have shown that supplementation leads to MS prevention2 and to fewer MS relapses.3

It would make sense, then, for vitamin D to be widely promoted for MS prevention. Supplement companies in the U.S. are forbidden by U.S. Food and Drug Administration to promote vitamins for disease prevention, regardless of how effective they are. But what have the medical profession and government health agencies done to promote vitamin D for MS prevention? Essentially nothing. In fact, they have in effect discouraged it. After 30 years of accumulating evidence that vitamin D is an effective preventative and treatment for MS, we still have medical people making statements in the media such as “There's not enough evidence yet to recommend that...”4; and the U.S. government’s recommended RDA for vitamin D has been too low by at least a factor of 20!2 Is it any wonder that some observers consider the government to be actively working to harm the public health rather than to improve it?

The latest news about vitamin D and MS sheds some light on how this vitamin works at the molecular level.56 The pieces of the puzzle are falling into place nicely, and there’s no reason to delay making use of our knowledge. Researchers have identified a gene that is associated with the risk of acquiring MS, and have shown that vitamin D influences the activity of this gene.


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