(NaturalNews) A recent review on environmental risk factors for multiple sclerosis (MS), an autoimmune disorder, summed up a world of scientific evidence on the potential impact of latitude and vitamin D levels on the development of this life-changing illness. Researchers have long suspected a connection between environmental factors (such as gender, Epstein Barr Virus, smoking, and sun exposure) and MS rates, and recent efforts at identifying causal pathways for these relationships are gaining ground.
The visual difference in MS rates with vitamin D levels, sun exposure, and latitude is striking; prevalence is noticeably linked to MS rates in many countries. Clinical trials are beginning to study the vitamin D and MS connection in greater depth, and the increased attention for environmental risk factors will undoubtedly fan the flame.
What does this connection mean for you?
If you live in an area with limited sun exposure or if you are at increased genetic risk of developing MS, consider discussing vitamin D supplements or increased sun exposure with your healthcare provider. Many individuals living at high latitudes may experience vitamin D deficiencies during the winter months - a simple blood test will reveal vitamin D levels in the system.
If sun exposure or over-the-counter supplements are not an option, work on increasing your vitamin D levels through diet.
Vitamin D is naturally found in seafood items like salmon, tuna, cod liver oil, and swordfish. Egg yolks and cooked beef liver are other natural sources of this critical nutrient. Vitamin D is also frequently added to foods and drinks as a supplement. Many brands of orange juice, milk, yogurt, cheese, and cereal are fortified with vitamin D.
Although sufficient vitamin D can be obtained through food and supplements, getting sun exposure is the easiest way to get your daily dose of vitamin D. Consider taking a daily walk during lunch and spending time outside on weekends to maintain healthy levels over the winter. Adult men and women should aim to consume around 600 IU of vitamin D on a daily basis. In some cases, health professionals may recommend higher doses, but individuals should not exceed 4,000 IU per day.
About the author: Katie BrindAmour is a Certified Health Education Specialist and passionate health and wellness freelance writer. She enjoys cooking, yoga, gardening, searching for the perfect wine and chocolate combination, and spending time with friends. She has a Masters in Biology and is currently pursuing her PhD in Health Services Management and Policy. She also enjoys blogging for Women's Healthcare Topics and Healthline Networks.