Multiple sclerosis, or MS, is a disorder of the central nervous system. When you have the disease, it affects both your brain and spinal cord. Normally, nerve cells are surrounded by an insulating layer called myelin. Myelin is a fatty substance that helps transmit nerve impulses. In those with MS, the myelin sheath becomes inflamed or damaged. This slows or completely disrupts the transmission of nerve impulses, leaving areas of scarring called sclerosis.
When these nerve signals are disrupted, you can experience a number of symptoms, the most common of which are blurred or double vision, tingling in the limbs, loss of balance and coordination, and tremors. MS attacks typically come and go in episodes, with relapses alternating with remissions.
MS is what medical experts call an autoimmune disease. This means it is caused by an attack by your body’s own immune system. For reasons still unknown, immune cells attack and destroy the myelin sheath. Communication is then disrupted between the brain and other parts of the body. No one knows exactly what causes the immune system to behave in this way, but many have proposed theories as to the possible triggers of MS.
Vitamin D deficiency has been linked with an increased risk for the symptoms of MS. In a clinical trial performed at the Harvard Medical School in Boston, researchers examined whether levels of vitamin D were associated with the risk of contracting MS. The researchers did a massive
data review of more than seven million U.S. military personnel who had blood samples stored in the Department of Defense Serum Repository. Multiple sclerosis cases were identified through Army and Navy databases from the years 1992 through 2004. The researchers matched each of the 257 cases to two controls. Vitamin D status was then evaluated by reviewing serum samples collected before the date of initial MS symptoms.
The research group found that, among caucasians, the risk of multiple sclerosis significantly decreased with increasing levels of vitamin D. The researchers concluded that higher levels of vitamin D were associated with a lower risk of multiple sclerosis.
The best source of vitamin D is the sun. UV rays from the sun trigger vitamin D synthesis in your skin. Ten to 15 minutes of sun exposure at least two times a week to your face, arms, hands or back is enough to give you a healthy dose of vitamin D. Any longer than that and you should put on sunblock.
Here are some food sources of vitamin D:
— Cod liver oil (the best source)