Should High Schoolers Have Daily Outdoor Recess? New Research Into Vitamin D And Multiple Sclerosis Favors Teens Spending More Time In The Sun

Do the teens in your life spend enough time running around outside and soaking in the sun’s vitamin D-inspiring rays? If not, their chances of developing multiple sclerosis at a younger age are greater. Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable disease of the central nervous system, and new research has discovered that this debilitating disease’s onset, in people who will eventually be diagnosed, could be delayed by simply spending more time in the sun during the teenage years. This study, in which the sun is the shining star in more ways than one, was published in the journal Neurology.

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) states that there may be over a quarter-million Americans with multiple sclerosis (MS), and around 200 new cases are diagnosed every single week. MS can be devastating. The first sign is often blurred or double vision. People with MS often have muscle weakness, balance problems, and difficulty with coordination. MS can even cause paralysis. Typically, the earliest symptoms of multiple sclerosis start in a person’s twenties or thirties.

According to Medical News Today, earlier research linked obesity in childhood and teen years with greater chances of developing multiple sclerosis, and of course, obesity is also associated with vitamin D deficiency. Studies of other demographics have shown that vitamin D may have some protective qualities against developing multiple sclerosis, so a team of researchers from Copenhagen University Hospital decided to investigate a link between MS vitamin D levels in the teenage years. Participants in the study completed a questionnaire and submitted blood samples for vitamin D testing. All of the participants had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. There were over 1100 participants in all. The research team divided the participants into two groups: people who spent time soaking in the sun’s rays as teenagers every single day and those who didn’t. They were also questioned about whether or not they used any type of vitamin D supplements as teens and the quantity of vitamin D-rich fatty fish they ate when they were 20 years old.

88 percent of the people with MS spent some time outside in the sun everyday as teens, and they were also the ones who developed multiple sclerosis much later in life. Dr. Julie Hejgaard Laursen was the lead author of the study, and she commented on this relationship.

“The relationship between weight and MS might be explained by a vitamin D deficiency, but there’s not enough direct evidence to establish this yet. It appears that both UVB rays from sunlight and vitamin D could be associated with a delayed onset of MS. However, it’s possible that other outdoor factors play a role, and these still have to be identified.”

Just like other vitamin D studies, this research team also found that the sun provides at least some protection from multiple sclerosis. The new research indicates that when teens spend time in the sun, it might even delay the onset of multiple sclerosis symptoms. Like other studies, this research supports the view that vitamin D and sun exposure may offer some protection against the development of MS.

Earlier this year, Inquisitr reported that vitamin D findings out of San Diego opposed the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of vitamin D that is suggested by Institute of Medicine (IOM). The San Diego researchers claimed that a re-examination of existing data suggests that a mere calculation error by earlier researchers greatly underestimated our Vitamin D intake needs. That research team suggested that the difference in RDA from actual need is so significant that it may have had drastic implications on public health. In fact, an ever-growing body of scientific evidence potentially implicates vitamin D deficiency in a number of diseases including, but not limited to, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, difficult or painful childbirth, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, and cancer.

Last year, researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden urged people to stop avoiding the sun so much, especially in areas of the globe with less sun exposure. That research published in the Journal of Internal Medicine said, “The results of this study clearly showed that mortality was about double in women who avoided sun exposure compared to the highest exposure group.”

So, how about keeping that outdoor recess going for our teens? According to reports, vitamin D researchers can’t fathom why our society isn’t taking childhood vitamin D deficiency more seriously. Do you think that this link to vitamin D and the onset of a disease as potentially debilitating as multiple sclerosis will be enough to get more teens back outside?

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