Is it true that those who suffer from Multiple sclerosis (MS) just need a little sun? Researchers at the University of Oxford seem to think so. In 2006, a study by the Journal of the American Medical Association suggested higher levels of vitamin D might decrease overall risk of developing MS.
Now researchers at the University of Oxford are backing that study with further evidence while also suggesting a link between the lack of sunlight and how the body responds when faced with an infection. The research concludes that MS is caused by several factors working in combination but clearly correlates to a lack of vitamin D.
Is it really as simple as soaking up some rays?
While the phenomenon of vitamin D deficiency is seen all over the world, countries in the northern hemisphere have been linked to significantly higher rates of MS. Scotland, for example, has one of the largest populations of MS sufferers, while the disease is “virtually unknown” in Africa. Even in sunny areas of the globe, it’s not uncommon for people to become vitamin D deficient during the winter, as the sun’s rays aren’t often high enough to penetrate atmospheric layers.
The research put forth by the University of Oxford suggests that, while those who already have MS may not benefit exponentially simply by increasing levels of vitamin D, getting more sun could be an effective preventative measure against developing the disease and managing symptoms.
More importantly, MS sufferers may be able to boost immunity to other conditions with an increase in vitamin D. A recent study by Anticancer Research affirms that typical adults need much more than the daily dosage recommended by the U.S. Government. According to that research, 4,000-8,000 IUs of vitamin D every day could not only help prevent MS but also several types of cancer and Type 1 diabetes.
The health care industry, of course, won’t promote a natural and safe preventative measure for degenerative diseases. Instead, people are warned about the dangers of UV exposure and the risks of vitamin toxicity. With vitamin D deficiency afflicting 90% of the U.S. population, however, it may be time to get a tan. Here are some interesting facts about the relationship between vitamin D and health:
1. It’s free. Five to thirty minutes of sunlight a couple of times a week is usually sufficient for helping the body create enough vitamin D
2. Getting enough vitamin D from food is virtually impossible
3. Sunscreens may block the body’s ability to generate vitamin D
4. Vitamin D is essential for the absorption of calcium in the body
5. Those who live further from the equator generally require longer periods of sun exposure to generate enough vitamin D
6. A lack of vitamin D can affect bone strength. One theory suggests that women who are deficient in vitamin D can suffer from contracting pelvises, which can result in the death of babies during labor
7. Vitamin D deficiency cannot be reversed quickly. It takes months for the body to increase and regulate vitamin D levels. This is why short periods of sun exposure are not only safe but also necessary for the synthesis of this important substance
For those with MS, increased sun exposure may be an easy and safe preventative measure against further cognitive and physical degeneration. As a direct threat to the medical establishment, however, it remains to be seen whether further government warnings and regulations about vitamin D will eventually ban people from sun bathing.