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Can the sunshine vitamin help treat MS?

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a notoriously misunderstood condition, often eluding a proper diagnosis because its symptoms are so varied. For the 2.3 million people around the world who suffer from it (according to the National MS Society), this autoimmune disorder can range from negligible to debilitating. Therapies for MS are certainly improving as researchers come to better understand the mechanisms behind this condition, but currently there is no cure.

Recently, though, scientists have made a discovery that may help people manage their MS or at least slow its progression. According to HealthDay, researchers have found that vitamin D, also known as the sunshine vitamin, could play a role in improving brain health and moderating the immune system. Both of these functions could potentially help fight MS.

The source notes that a vitamin D deficiency has previously been recognized as a risk factor for MS, but the connection between the nutrient and a healthy immune system is still relatively murky. In the new study, researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health found that the documented vitamin D levels in patients when their MS symptoms first appeared did show some correlation with how severe their condition became.

“Individuals who present with symptoms suggesting MS should be screened for possible vitamin D deficiency, and this should be corrected by vitamin D supplementation,” concluded lead researcher and professor Dr. Alberto Ascherio, though he noted that these findings aren’t enough to influence current treatment protocol for MS.

Vitamin D has been linked to improved bone strength, mood and overall health, but it can prove elusive in the winter months. Click to read more about our vitamins and multivitamins.