MS Cases Can Be Cut by 80% with Vitamin D

MS Cases Can Be Cut by 80% with Vitamin D

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The Daily Mail in the UK has reported that "Vitamin D 'can cut MS cases by 80%'.

The research, undertaken by a team from Oxford University and the University of British Columbia and funded by the UK's MS Society, the MS Society of Canada, the Wellcome Trust and the Medical Research Council, found evidence that an interaction between vitamin D and a common genetic variation decreased the risk of developing MS significantly.

The research, published in the open-access journal PLoS Genetics, suggested that vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy and the early years may increase the risk of the offspring developing MS later in life.

The implications are that by giving vitamin D supplements to pregnant women during pregnancy could cut 80% of the cases of MS in the UK.

By boosting vitamin D levels in pregnant women, the odds of having a child with MS could reduce the number of new cases in the UK from 2,500 a year to just 500.

Vitamin D is found in various foods - and is also generated in our bodies by exposure to sunlight.

It has been known for some time that the incidence of MS is higher in Northern countries - where there is less sunlight in winter. 

One of the lead authors Dr Sreeram Ramagopalan said

"Our study implies that taking vitamin D supplements during pregnancy and the early years may reduce the risk of a child developing MS in later life..... vitamin D is a safe and relatively cheap supplement with substantial potential health benefits. There is accumulating evidence that it can reduce the risk of developing cancer and offer protection from other autoimmune diseases."

The research was welcomed by Simon Gillespie, Chief Executive of the MS Society (UK).

"These remarkable results tie together leading theories about the environment, genes and MS but they are only part of the jigsaw," says Mr Gillespie. "This discovery opens up new avenues of MS research and future experiments will help put the pieces together."

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