The Gulf Stream keeps us warm and temperate; the rains wash the fields to keep the tales of Emerald Isle true; our friendliness to strangers remains the highlight of many a tourist’s visit and we habitually talk about the weather. However, there are things that we miss out on being located where we are (Relatively 53 degrees 00′ N and 80 degrees 00′ W, Dublin: 53° 20‘ N, 6° 16‘), exposure to sunshine is one of them, with lack of Vitamin D in Irish bodies being a consequence of this lack of exposure.
The Irish Weather: It does make for good conversations and fills the gap in chatter Irish people are eager to avoid (lest it lead to a moment of reflection, talk of more personal topics like how we’re really feeling or what’s really going on in our lives). Example “Hello, how are you?” the usual response of “Sure I’m grand, isn’t it a beautiful/too warm/climate change ha!/miserable/wouldn’t-put-a-dog-out day?”. This is all fine and well but while we moan about the lack of sunshine, other things are going on in our bodies. Yes, it seems like bit of a tangent to skip from the weather to epigenetics BUT without exposure to UVB rays we’re missing out on the sunshine vitamin (Vitamin D) to such an extent that all people on the island really could do with supplementing their diets with Vitamin D.
What is Vitamin D? Not really a vitamin at all but is really a hormone , it is something the body makes itself. There’s a lovely explanation here from Harvard Health Publications here. More information on Vitamin D and MS are available here from the National Institutes for Health and from Overcoming Multiple Sclerosis. Professor George Ebers has done lots of research into Vitamin D and MS and you can see him here give a great explanation about Vitamin D and MS. Expect epigenetics (how our genes are changed by environment through the generations, DNA and all sorts of lovely information!
Vitamin D and You: We’re talking about strong bones, immune system regulation and all sorts of other things. Please note, the frequency of MS increases the greater the distance you live from the equator. While we still don’t know what causes MS, environmental factors such as location added to poor childhood nutrition/circumstances, diet, smoking tobacco, abusing alcohol and other drugs as well as genetic contribute and combine to be a factors in the condition.
This is something I’ve been researching for a number of years and it has become part of my Management Kit for my condition. I enjoy the warmth, dry weather and the feel of the sun on my skin. Recently I had my blood levels checked my neurologist so at least I knew what I was working with. They are at the right levels for preventative health (anywhere between 90-100 nmol/L).
Get Checked: It’s worth doing some research and getting your Vitamin D levels checked and take advice from your healthcare practitioner. It has implications for you now but for women, if you’re planning on having children, take Vitamin D for foetal bone growth, physical development and other important factors.
What I say here is a reflection of what I do in my daily life and is not medical advice. This and other things I do in my everyday life are to maintain my happiness, lives well and to manage my condition. How about you? Do you follow the Overcoming MS Recovery programme or supplement with Vitamin D? have you any tips you’d like to share? Post your comments and connect on Twitter @emmadragon for a chat.
© Emma Rogan 2014
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