Living with M.S.

"Living with M.S. is sort of like training for a long race. The harder you try, and the longer you keep at it, the stronger you become.
Eventually, looking back, you may be amazed at the power you possessed, even when you had no idea it was within your reach." (Linda Ann Nickerson)


Do low vitamin D and teen obesity hasten MS?

Some medical researchers in Denmark now suggest vitamin D deficiency and obesity during adolescence may lead to accelerated onset of multiple sclerosis in affected individuals. If so, could the reverse be true? Could slimmer (perhaps fitter) teens who spend lots of time in the sun unwittingly stave off the MS MonSter till much later in life?

Maybe that’s why I didn’t find out I had MS till I was 50.

I spent lots of time outside in my youth and childhood. (I still do.) Biking, boating, hiking, skiing, and swimming have been some of my favorite pursuits. More recently, horseback riding, gardening, and running have beckoned me outside.

And I confess. I spent countless in my teen years under the sky, working on suntans. Now I endure frequent skin examinations and have been through countless freeze-offs and even basal cell carcinoma surgery. But I didn’t face MS till later in life.

Fair trade? I dunno.

OK, back to the medical research on teen obesity, vitamin D and MS.

The study team, based at Copenhagen University in Denmark, targets more than 1,000 MSers in Denmark and took their blood samples. The participants were asked about sun exposure, vitamin D supplements, and diet (especially consumption of fatty fish) during their teen years. The vast majority of those who indicated they had spent time in the sun daily during adolescence had developed MS later in life than those who did not.

Also, those who said they had been overweight as teenagers were found to have MS earlier than those who were not.

The findings were reported this week in Medical News Today.

Earlier MS research has already pointed to a possible connection between childhood or teen obesity and increased MS risk. Some experts explain this as arising from lesser physical activity, particularly outdoors, which tends to lead to decreased Vitamin D exposure. This stands to reason, perhaps, as those who spend more time playing and exercising outside tend to pick up more sunshine (and thus, Vitamin D).

Vitamin D seems to be a constant issue for many MSers. From deficiencies to improper absorption, we never seem to have enough vitamin D in our systems. (Raise your hand, if your MS specialist has ever put you on whopping doses of vitamin D.)

In the US along, some 200 individuals are newly diagnosed with MS every week, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). The current total of American MS cases is said to be somewhere between 250,000 and 350,000. It would be interesting to analyze the MS onset ages (or at least, the diagnosis ages) of those individuals.

Hey, I’d love to know how many had parents that sent them outdoors to play sports when they were young. And don’t these research findings (if confirmed) beg the question about teens in our video game, virtual reality, and online socialization age and how a sedentary lifestyle might shape the future outlook for yet-undiagnosed MSers?

Adapted from public domain artwork
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