MS and Vitamin D

I recall that people have been talking for a long time about a connection between MS and light. Getting enough light which is why prevalence rates seem to be higher in the higher latitudes. What I hadn\’t realised is that they\’d gone further than that:

Now the researchers are trying to work out why the rate in Orkney is so high. Last month, a study found evidence that vitamin D supplements for pregnant women in colder, darker countries could stave off multiple sclerosis in their unborn children.

The finding adds to a growing body of work showing a link between low vitamin D levels and the debilitating disease, in which the immune system attacks the body’s own nerve fibres. Dr Jim Wilson, from the Centre for Population Health Sciences at the University of Edinburgh, said: “Our study shows that Orkney has the highest prevalence rate of multiple sclerosis recorded worldwide.

For example, does Orkney actually have daylight at this time of year?

16 comments on “MS and Vitamin D

  1. St Petersberg in Russia gets a whole 4 min extra sunlight at this time of year. Anchorage, Alaska, gets a whopping 20 min less. If sunlight was a significant factor in MS, then wouldn’t one expect the population to show a similar rate of MS to Orkney in St Petersberg and a higher rate in Anchorage? Bearing in mind the relatively small gene pool in the Orkneys, and I don’t mean marrying your first cousin, I’d look elsewhere for an answer.

  2. Bear in mind, GOM, it’s the amount of Vitamin D production that is being argued here, not the duration of sunlight. I tend to agree with you, but you would have to control for all those tough Russians/Americans who sneer at the cold and bask in what there is of sun shirtless…

    Vladimir Putin, for some reason, springs to mind.

  3. It would be interesting if true given there has been a claim that MS appears to have some sort of biological cause from an unknown infectious agent.

    However a lack of sunlight during pregnancy has been linked to an increased risk in schizophrenia so who knows?

    There must have been some strong selection pressure on immigrants to Europe in order for them to lose their melanin and become white. Neither of these looks particularly convincing as MS hits late in life well past the prime child bearing years and schizophrenia might actually be positively selected for in many societies. So I doubt we have seen the last bad effect of a lack of sunlight.

  4. Vitamin D is fat soluble so you don’t need sun every day.
    It is also not the hours of light but the hours you spend in the sun. I would guess that sunbathing in Orkney in July is less enjoyable than St Petersburg or Alaska (it only gets to 19 degrees C in Orkney compared to 30 in St Peters).

  5. Not having daylight for some 24-hour period during the year requires one to be north of the Arctic Circle, or south of the Antarctic Circle. Orkney is not north of the Arctic Circle; QED. Still, thanks for not using the illiterate expression ‘the Orkneys.’

  6. Populations living Traditionally as Human DNA evolved in East Africa have Vit d ~ 25( OH)D levels 115 nmol/l = 46 ng/ml at this level human milk vit d replete food for human babies.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22264449
    CityAssays Birmingham NHS path lab offer postal vit d tests £20 if you bulk buy/share with friends/family.
    http://www.vitamindtest.org.uk/
    5000iu vit d capsules less than £10 from Amazon.
    1000iu daily for each 25lbs weight. or 100iu per 2.5lbs daily for children. Retest after 3~5 months and add/subtract 1000iu for 25nmol/l~10ng/ml below/above target

    The amount of vitamin D that is currently being provided for people living in Scotland is only a placebo or homeopathic amount and never anything like the natural amount (10~20,000iu) made given full body, non-burning, sun exposure

    Dr. Lee Hieb explains how medical ‘consensus’ robs patients of their health
    http://bit.ly/YWdbUT

  7. I’m not convinced there is much Vitamin D making its way onto the streets of St. Petersburg at this time of year. I was there until yesterday, and although it got a bit less dank and grey, I didn’t see any actual sun. I did get totally pissed though.

  8. Have the Orcadians fallen victim to the general media and NHS-inspired fear of sunlight? I know several mothers who do not allow their kids to go out doors in summer without being wrapped up in as much clothing as possible and slathered with factor 3000 sunscreen. I bet not much natural production of Vitamin D happens in those kids. But, wouldn’t there also be a similar increase in cases of rickets?

    This research doesn’t really pass the smell test if it is as reported.

  9. The Orcadian diet includes lots of oily fish. So unless the diet has changed they have plenty of vitamin D.

  10. FWIW, I doubt Orcadian sunshine leads to much Vit D production in the summer, let alone the winter. Same for most of Scotland, and England in the winter.

    SBML, @ 11, yes and no about rickets. From memory, vit D deficiency is not a problem among afro-carribean immigrants/their descendants, but is among South Asian immigrants, particularly in Scotland.

  11. johnny bonk – ““schizophrenia might actually be positively selected for in many societies” … no.”

    Well yes. You really think in many societies someone who was regularly talking to the Gods or the Spirits of the Ancestors or whatever would not be widely respected and admired?

    15 Monty – “Does anyone know if MS is noticeably more prevalent in the burka-belt?”

    Schizophrenia is more common among our melanin-enhanced communities. Ken Livingstone blames institutional racism in the medical profession. No doubt the same would be true of MS if there was a link.

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