January 25, 2020

UV exposure may prevent the development of Multiple Sclerosis, studies show

In a previous post, we discussed the beneficial effects of Vitamin D on the management and maybe even prevention of multiple sclerosis.  Specifically, we talked about how pregnant mothers who consumed a lot of Vitamin D when pregnant were less likely to have children who developed the condition.  Vitamin D has long been touted as a supplement that can decrease the likelihood of a person eventually suffering from multiple sclerosis.  This hypothesis was further shored up by the evidence that the condition is quite rare in tropical regions because people are exposed to a great deal of sunlight, and thereby Vitamin D.  Conversely, multiple sclerosis is more prevalent where the sun shines less often, such as northern parts of North America and Europe.  Although many scientists believe it is the Vitamin D that prevents the onset, no actual link between the two has been proven.  Now, researchers believe that it is not the Vitamin D, but rather the ultraviolet rays from the sun that prevent a person from developing multiple sclerosis.

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison injected mice with a protein that produced a type of myelin damage that is responsible for the creation of multiple sclerosis in humans.  They also exposed some of the mice to UV rays before and after the injection, while another group received no UV exposure.  According to Science News, the mice who received the UV exposure suppressed the development of multiple sclerosis type symptoms, despite an inadequate amount of Vitamin D.  The other mice did not fare as well.  Next, the researchers actually injected some mice with Vitamin D without UV exposure.  They found that this injection without radiation did not decrease the odds of developing multiple sclerosis, nor slowing its progression.  The researchers concluded that the UV exposure must be responsible for delaying or preventing the onset of multiple sclerosis, apart from Vitamin D supplementation.

Although the research team believed they found a link between UV rays and the prevention of multiple sclerosis, they are still uncertain as to how the actual mechanism works.  They indicate that further studies will be needed to see exactly how UV exposure works and whether it influences any other areas of the body’s health.  They do not wholly denounce the role of Vitamin D in fighting multiple sclerosis; however, the team does want to understand how each of these environmental factors work and how future treatment and preventive measures may be discovered.  It appears that there is no doubt that some moderate sunlight will help those who live with multiple sclerosis, whether it is through the UV exposure or Vitamin D.  Talk with your doctor about how you can get some additional sun exposure safely.

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