I received my copy of MS Connection in the mail yesterday, a publication of the Connecticut chapter of the MS Society. There were a couple of very interesting articles in this issue. One described a massive international genetics study with a major breakthrough. Scientists have now successfully confirmed 23 previously known genetic links and identified 29 new ones and strongly suspect 5 others. They confirmed that a number of autoimmune diseases share many similar genetic variants. And 2 genes linked to vitamin D were also implicated with research increasingly pointing to low vitamin D levels in patients as a risk factor for developing MS.
It probably cost a fortune for these scientists to figure out what many of us already knew. I can't count the number of people with MS that I have met who have close family members who also suffer from various autoimmune diseases. My own father passed away due to complications from Crohn's disease. Has my neurologist ever asked me about my family history? Has yours? Has your doctor ordered a test for your vitamin D levels? Mine never did.
The second article really left me shaking my head. "Study: Bone Health a Concern In Early MS". Doctors at Oslo University Hospital have reported their findings to Neurology magazine. So newly diagnosed patients with MS are showing low bone mass compared to a control group without MS. What? Most of us get diagnosed in early adult-hood. Might this suggest a Vitamin D deficiency, probably since birth? Mine had not been checked until I visited a naturopath six years ago. My D3 was a 6....off the charts low. I take supplements, sun, calcium, exercise and eat a healthy diet and I'm still low normal. And surprise - I've just been diagnosed with osteopinea, a forerunner to osteoporosis. I'm not a scientist but my guess is that MS is genetically linked to other autoimmune diseases, including Crohn's, and that vitamin D (described by some as a hormone) has the ability to prevent the onset in at least some of us. With this limited knowledge, would it be wise for all of our family members to have their vitamin D levels checked once a year, including the kids?