A new study published in the February edition of Neurology appears to show a link between increased sun exposure and higher vitamin d levels and a reduced risk of developing multiple sclerosis (MS).
The Australian study involving 611 people determined that those with the highest vitamin d levels in their blood were the least likely to develop multiple sclerosis. The study also found that those with the most evidence of skin damage from sun exposure were about 60% less likely to develop multiple sclerosis or MS-related symptoms.
Nicholas LaRocca, PhD, the U.S. National Multiple Sclerosis Society Vice President, made a point of emphasizing that the findings involving vitamin d did not determine whether or not vitamin d (vitamin d3 to be specific) was the reason for the reduced risk of MS or simply a side-effect of sun exposure.
Vitamin D3, or cholecalciferol, is the form of vitamin d manufactured within the body as a product of sun exposure. It has been found to be by far the most bioavailable (readily absorbable) or the various forms of the nutrient. It is safe to assume that those studied were ingesting cholecalciferol as opposed to other forms of the nutrient (like ergocalciferol, or vitamin d2), based on the fact that direct sun exposure was followed in addition to vitamin d levels.
The scientists representing the study made a point of emphasizing that they do not encourage people to spend unlimited amounts of time in the sun. Instead, they discussed the importance of being smart and getting sun in moderation.
It is not yet known at this point whether or not multiple sclerosis can be added to the list of diseases caused in part by vitamin d deficiency. However, based on the volumes of research to be conducted in recent years linking more than 20 different diseases and ailments to the nutritional deficiency, don’t be surprised if a definitive link is established scientifically in the upcoming years.