(NaturalNews) For the first time, researchers have observed that having high vitamin D levels is clearly linked to warding off multiple sclerosis (MS), a chronic autoimmune disease that affects the brain and spinal cord. Published in the American Academy of Neurology journal Neurology, the study found that having high vitamin D levels helps prevent the development of MS in those who are beginning to observe symptoms of its onset.
"Previous studies have found similar results, but this is the first study to look at people who have just had the first symptoms of MS and haven't even been diagnosed with the disease yet," said Robyn Lucas, Ph.D., from Australian National University in Canberra, author of the study. "Other studies have looked at people who already have MS -- then it's hard to know whether having the disease led them to change their habits in the sun or in their diet."
Lucas and her team evaluated 216 people between the ages of 18 and 59, all of which had experienced initial symptoms of MS. They compared them to 395 people with no symptoms of MS, but that were of similar ages, sexes, and backgrounds. After calculating sun exposure and vitamin D levels, the researchers observed that for each 1,000 kilojoules of ultraviolet (UV) exposure a person experiences, his or her risk of having an MS "first event" drops by 30 percent.
"Added together, the differences in sun exposure, vitamin D levels and skin type accounted for a 32 percent increase in a diagnosed first event from the low to the high latitude regions of Australia," added Lucas, in reference to the fact that higher cases of MS occur among populations that are further from the equator, and thus less exposed to vitamin D-producing sunlight.
Across the board, high levels of sunlight exposure were linked to a reduced risk of MS, indicating a clear connection between blood levels of vitamin D and risk of developing the disease. The study confirms a previous one published by researchers from both Oxford University and the University of British Columbia in 2009 that observed a connection between vitamin D deficiency and the onset of MS (http://www.naturalnews.com/025791.html).
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