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The Light Side of MS

February 26, 2008 | 71,100 views
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sunlight, sun exposure, vitamin DAlthough the risk of multiple sclerosis (MS) is often blamed on genetics, there are significant geographic variations in MS frequency, which suggests strong environmental factors may be at play.

One such factor is sunlight exposure and vitamin D. MS is rare in Asia, the tropics and the sub-tropics, and strong correlations exist between MS, location, and duration and intensity of sunlight.

In short, sunlight exposure has been linked to a reduced risk of MS, and vitamin D deficiency (caused by a lack of sun exposure) has been suggested as a cause of MS.

A review of epidemiological studies found a protective role of vitamin D for MS. Meanwhile, animal studies have found that an injection of vitamin D3 can prevent experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), which is an animal model of MS. Vitamin D deficiency accelerated the onset of EAE in animals.

The researchers concluded that vitamin D supplementation, at levels higher than are currently recommended by the Institute of Medicine, may help to reduce the risk of MS.

Other environmental factors that may also increase the risk of MS include infection with the Epstein-Barr virus and cigarette smoking.

How Vitamin D Performance Testing Can Help Optimize Your Health

A robust and growing body of research clearly shows that vitamin D is absolutely critical for good health and disease prevention. Vitamin D affects your DNA through vitamin D receptors (VDRs), which bind to specific locations of the human genome. Scientists have identified nearly 3,000 genes that are influenced by vitamin D levels, and vitamin D receptors have been found throughout the human body.

Is it any wonder then that no matter what disease or condition is investigated, vitamin D appears to play a crucial role? This is why I am so excited about the D*Action Project by GrassrootsHealth. Dr. Heaney is the research director of GrassrootsHealth and is part of the design of the D*action Project as well as analysis of the research findings. GrassrootsHealth shows how you can take action today on known science with a consensus of experts without waiting for institutional lethargy. It has shown how by combining the science of measurement (of vitamin D levels) with the personal choice of taking action and, the value of education about individual measures that one can truly be in charge of their own health.

In order to spread this health movement to more communities, the project needs your involvement. This was an ongoing campaign during the month of February, and will become an annual event.

To participate, simply purchase the D*Action Measurement Kit and follow the registration instructions included. (Please note that 100 percent of the proceeds from the kits go to fund the research project. I do not charge a single dime as a distributor of the test kits.)

As a participant, you agree to test your vitamin D levels twice a year during a five-year study, and share your health status to demonstrate the public health impact of this nutrient. There is a $65 fee every six months for your sponsorship of this research project, which includes a test kit to be used at home, and electronic reports on your ongoing progress. You will get a follow up email every six months reminding you "it's time for your next test and health survey."

Vitamin D Kit
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Where Do We Go From Here?

GrassrootsHealth is now undertaking a new project entitled the Protect our Children NOW! (POC) project. The aim of this project is to acquire participation of at least 500 pregnant women in a community, and to increase their serum levels to the suggested level of at least 40 ng/ml based on the clinical trial by Hollis & Wagner.  In addition, the project will take these results in 2 years and 'march' on the various institutions in the state/government/to the March of Dimes, to demand that action be taken to protect the world's next generation.

Among other items, the projects expected impact is likely to be a reduction in preterm births,(in some cases up to a 50% reduction). The project already has the blessing of the scientists, the physicians at the Medical University of South Carolina (which are implementing it in their practices) and even the insurance company. Any community can implement this and make a difference for themselves and others. For further information contact Jen Aliano, Project Manager, at jen@grassrootshealth.org.


Dr. Mercola's Comments:

It is widely known that your risk of MS increases the farther away you live from the equator.

Quite simply, one of the best things you can do for your health -- getting enough regular exposure to sunshine on your uncovered skin so your body can produce optimal amounts of vitamin D -- can greatly reduce your risks of developing serious autoimmune diseases like MS.

In fact, a lack of sunlight was identified as a risk factor for MS as early as 1922. Vitamin D has been shown to positively affect MS by changing the status of chemicals called cytokines, which modulate your immune system and can either fight or increase inflammation.

One study found that sunlight exposure reduced the death rate from MS by as much as 76 percent!

Within the United States, you are roughly twice as likely to develop MS if you spent your childhood in northern states than if you did so in more southerly states. The "cutoff" age appears to be 15; your likelihood of developing MS remains higher if you lived as a child in a less sunny climate, even if you move farther south as an adult.

Still, one of the most important things you can do at any time in your life is to make sure your vitamin D levels are where they should be (The OPTIMAL value that you’re looking for is 50-55 ng/ml (115-128 nmol/l).)

Ideally, you should get the vitamin D you need by getting regular sun exposure. If you live somewhere where this is impossible year-round, you can use a safe tanning bed that has the potentially harmful X-rays and electromagnetic fields eliminated.

Alternatively, you can take a high-quality vitamin D3 -- this is the ONLY safe form of vitamin D supplement -- but you should have your levels checked regularly to make sure you don’t overdose.

You can find out all the important details about sunlight and vitamin D in my upcoming book Dark Deception, which is coming out soon.

Tips for Preventing, and Normalizing MS

Prevention is the best option for MS, as this disease is not a simple thing to put into remission. The chance of going into remission with conventional treatments is close to zero, but your chances increase considerably when employing intelligent natural therapies including:
  • Getting plenty of sunshine and optimizing your vitamin D levels. If you have MS, I would have your vitamin D level checked every month or two until it is in the optimal range.
  • Taking a high-quality omega-3 fat, such as from krill oil, while cutting back on omega-6 fats from vegetable oil. This will help to optimize your omega-3:omega-6 ratio.
  • Eliminating sugar and following the nutrition plan, which will help to normalize your insulin levels.
  • Removing heavy metal toxins like mercury from your body.
Further, in my experience with MS patients, there is nearly always a precipitating traumatic emotional event that causes your immune system to crash, leading to the disease. Through my experiences, I have found that they are typically related to close family members. Troubled relationships with spouses, parents, siblings, deaths and divorces are very common triggers for MS.

Issues related to this event need to be addressed by using an effective energy psychology tool like the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), but only with the help of an experienced practitioner.

[+] Sources and References

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Food Democracy Now
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Alliance for Natural Health USA
GrassrootsHealth - Vitamin D*action
American Holistic Veterinary Medical Foundation
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