A new study suggests Vitamin D, which the body makes when exposed to sunlight, may help prevent multiple sclerosis (MS).
What's more, the principal regulator of calcium in the body may also prevent the production of malignant cells such as breast and prostate cancer cells.
According to an article by Sylvia Christakos, PhD, of the UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School, the 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 study has been published online in the Journal of Cellular Biochemistry.
"Since 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," Christakos added.
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.