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Thursday, February 05, 2009

Giving all pregnant women vitamin D supplements could cut the number of Multiple Sclerosis sufferers by up to 80 per cent, new research suggests.

Vitamin D for pregnant women could cut MS rates
article in the Telegraph


"Scientists have proved a long suspected link between the "sunshine vitamin" and the debilitating disease, a finding that could prevent tens of thousands of people developing the condition in future generations.

The findings are so compelling that the Multiple Sclerosis Society is to urge the government to produce guidelines encouraging pregnant women and young children to take the supplements.

More than 85,000 people in the UK and 2.5 million worldwide are thought to suffer from the condition, which results in damage to the nervous system preventing messages being passed from the brain to the body.

It can eventually lead to symptoms such as loss of sight and mobility, muscle spasms, slurred speech, fatigue and depression. There is no cure.

The team at Oxford University made the breakthrough after investigating why the condition is much more prevalent in cold climates than it in is in warmer countries with high levels of sunshine.

They suspected that vitamin D, which is produced by the body when it comes into contact with sunlight, could play a key role.

In laboratory experiments they discovered that vitamin D has a direct impact on a sequence of DNA known to be key to the disease.

In particular it played a vital role in making the genes develop and perform properly.

"If too little of the vitamin is available, the genes may not function properly," claimed Dr Julian Knight, the senior researcher at the Wellcome Trust and co-author of the study.

The researchers, who published their findings in the journal Public Library of Science Genetics, believe that a lack of vitamin D in the womb produces a rogue gene which in turn may cause the immune system to turn against the body, resulting in damage to nerve endings."

Click on the Vitamin D tag for this blogpost and see further information about the benefits of getting enough of this sunshine vitamin!