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Vitamin linked to diseases


New research shows how powerful Vitamin D deficiency is. Scientists have now mapped out over 200 genes that Vitamin D directly affects. Genome Research has published the article.

Researchers think that perhaps one billion people worldwide suffer from Vitamin D deficiency and most have no idea. Lack of exposure to the sun and poor diet are the main contributors to the condition. There may even be links to autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and type 1 diabetes - even cancer and some kinds of dementia.

In a really complicated scientific experiment which revealed where Vitamin D receptors form along a genome, researchers discovered concentrated areas near genes associated with MS, Crohn’s disease, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, type 1 diabetes and cancers like chronic lymphocytic leukaemia and colorectal cancer.

“Our study shows quite dramatically the wide-ranging influence that vitamin D exerts over our health,” says Dr. Andreas Heger from the MRC Functional Genomics Unit at Oxford, one of the lead authors of the new study.

Dr. Sreeram Ramagopalan from Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics added, “There is now evidence supporting a role for vitamin D in susceptibility to host of diseases. Vitamin D supplements during pregnancy and the early years could have a beneficial effect on a child’s health in later life. Some countries such as France have instituted this as a routine public health measure.”

Exposure to sunlight is key. Oily fish like salmon and sardines included regularly in the diet helps as well. “Vitamin D is potentially one of the most powerful selective pressures on the genome in relatively recent times,” said Professor George Ebers, Action Medical Research Professor Clinical Neurology and one of the authors.

Source: Science Daily, Wellcome Trust


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