Vitamin D, the principal regulator of calcium in the body, may prevent the
production of malignant cells such as breast and prostate cancer cells and
protect against specific autoimmune disorders including multiple sclerosis (MS)
according to an article by Sylvia Christakos, PhD, of the UMDNJ-New Jersey
In the article, Christakos reports that research shows
that the incidence of MS decreases as the amount of vitamin D available to the
body increases, either through sunlight exposure or diet. The article notes that
MS is "for the most part, unknown in equatorial regions" and that the prevalence
of the disease is lower in areas where fish consumption is high. The study is
available online in the Journal of Cellular Biochemistry
vitamin D is produced in the skin through solar or UV irradiation and high serum
levels have been shown to correlate with a reduced risk of MS, this suggests
that vitamin D may regulate the immune response and may promote a host's
reaction to a pathogen," Christakos said.
Christakos' report focuses on
the immunosuppressive actions of the active form of vitamin D, which may inhibit
the induction of MS, and emphasizes the importance of maintaining a sufficient
vitamin D level.
"Evidence has shown that the maintenance of an adequate
vitamin D level may have a protective effect in individuals predisposed to MS,"
Christakos said. "One device of vitamin D action may be to preserve balance in
the T-cell reaction and thus avoid autoimmunity."
Despite the significant
evidence of the benefits of vitamin D relative to MS and other autoimmune
diseases, Christakos cautions that further studies are needed to determine
whether vitamin D alone or combined with other treatments is effective in
individuals with active MS.
The University of Medicine and Dentistry of
New Jersey (UMDNJ) is the nation's largest free-standing public health sciences
university with more than 5,500 students attending the state's three medical
schools, its only dental school, a graduate school of biomedical sciences, a
school of health related professions, a school of nursing and its only school of
public health, on five campuses. Last year, there were more than two million
patient visits to UMDNJ facilities and faculty at campuses in Newark, New
Brunswick/Piscataway, Scotch Plains, Camden and Stratford. UMDNJ operates
University Hospital, a Level I Trauma Center in Newark, and University
Behavioral HealthCare, a mental health and addiction services
University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey
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