Attention Women! Deficiency of vitamin D in your blood may increase the risk of developing multiple sclerosis (MS), warns a recent study.
MS is a disease in which the immune system eats away at the protective covering of nerves.
Study author Kassandra Munger of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston said that there have only been a few small studies suggesting that levels of vitamin D in the blood can predict risk.
"Our study, involving a large number of women, suggests that correcting vitamin D deficiency in young and middle-age women may reduce their future risk of MS," Munger added.
The team used a repository of blood samples from more than 8,00,000 women in Finland, taken as part of prenatal testing.
They identified 1,092 women, who were diagnosed with MS an average of nine years after giving the blood samples.
They were then compared to 2,123 women who did not develop the disease.
Deficient levels of vitamin D were defined as fewer than 30 nanomoles per liter (nmol/L). Insufficient levels were 30 to 49 nmol/L and adequate levels were 50 nmol/L or higher.
Of the women who developed MS, 58 percent had deficient levels of vitamin D, compared to 52 percent of the women who did not develop the disease.
They found that with each 50 nmol/L increase in vitamin D levels in the blood, the risk of developing MS later in life decreased by 39 percent.
Limitations of the study include that participants were primarily white women and therefore the findings may not be the same for other racial groups or men.
The research appears in online issue of Neurology journal.