Health Discoveries in Neuromuscular and Peripheral Nerve Disease

More sun and vitamin D may lower MS risk

February 9, 2011

Australian researchers have found that higher levels of vitamin D and greater sun exposure may lower the risk of developing multiple sclerosis (MS), according to the February issue of the journal Neurology.

Their study bolsters previous findings that MS is more likely to develop in people who live farther from the equator.

The autoimmune disease's symptoms include loss of balance, slurred speech, muscle spasms and difficulty moving arms or legs. Vitamin D is known to diminish some of the immune overactivity that occurs in autoimmune diseases.

The study, which focused on more than 200 adults with pre-diagnosis signs of MS, is the first to track sun exposure's effect on those showing signs of the disease, rather than those who have already been diagnosed. For every additional 1000 kilojoules of sun exposure by the participants, the risk of developing early signs of MS dropped by 30 percent. Having a higher vitamin D level, which can be increased by sun exposure, also was linked to a lower MS risk.

At the North Shore-LIJ Health System's Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Care Center, a multi-specialty medical program helps people with MS increase functional ability and independence through rehabilitation and symptom management.

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