A 2015 study at the University of Cambridge, discovered a protein that activated Vitamin D could repair nerve damage, particularly the myelin, in patients with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). This could make vitamin D, a potential treatment for Multiple Sclerosis in times to come.
What is Vitamin D?
This is a fat-soluble vitamin that is generally obtained from exposure to the sun, supplements and certain foods. It promotes absorption of calcium in the gut, while maintaining serum phosphate and calcium concentrations. It is necessary for bone growth and remodelling. Other functions of this vitamin include, immune function, neuromuscular function, cell growth and inflammation reduction.
How does Vitamin D repair nerve damage?
The research suggested that the vitamin D receptor binds with the RXR-gamma receptor, which is involved in repair of myelin. Adding this vitamin to brain stem cells increased the production of myelin-producing cells by 80%. Multiple Sclerosis is caused by the body’s own immune system to generate an immune response against it’s own myelin. The myelin is attacked and damaged, which disrupts nerve signals between the brain and spinal cord.
This work provides significant evidence that vitamin D is involved in the regeneration of myelin once the disease has started
– Professor Robin Franklin, MS Society Cambridge Centre for Myelin Repair
What is Multiple Sclerosis?
Multiple Sclerosis, commonly called MS, is a debilitating, neurodegenerative disorder. It affects the brain and spinal cord by breaking the neural connections between them. Symptoms of the disorder include:
- blurred vision
- thinking problems
- muscle stiffness
- urinary problems
MS causes a statistical increase in mortality, compared to the general population. The onset of the disease can happen at any time. It also decreases the life expectancy by 7-14 years, according to a combined-study by Imperial College London. Once the disease starts, it can be disabling. Patients will need support with day-to-day activities, therefore, it is best to get help as early as possible from a medical professional.