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Multiple sclerosis associated with sun, not low vitamin D – Feb 2013

Interdependence and contributions of sun exposure and vitamin D to MRI measures in multiple sclerosis.

J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 2013 Feb 5.
Zivadinov R, Treu CN, Weinstock-Guttman B, Turner C, Bergsland N, O'Connor K, Dwyer MG, Carl E, Ramasamy DP, Qu J, Ramanathan M.
Department of Neurology, Buffalo Neuroimaging Analysis Center, State University of New York, , Buffalo, New York, USA.

PURPOSE: To assess the relationships of sun exposure history, supplementation and environmental factors to vitamin D levels in multiple sclerosis (MS) patients and to evaluate the associations between sun exposure and MRI measures.

METHODS: This study included 264 MS patients (mean age 46.9±10 years, disease duration 14.6±10 years; 67.8% relapsing-remitting, 28% secondary progressive and 4.2% primary progressive MS) and 69 healthy controls. Subjects underwent neurological and 3 T MRI examinations, provided blood samples and answered questions to a structured questionnaire. Information on race, skin and eye colour, supplement use, body mass index (BMI) and sun exposure was obtained by questionnaire. The vitamin D metabolites (25-hydroxy vitamin D3, 1, 25-dihydroxy vitamin D3 and 24, 25-dihydroxy vitamin D3) were measured using mass spectrometry.


  • Multivitamin supplementation (partial correlation r(p)=0.29, p<0.001),
  • BMI (r(p)=-0.24, p=0.001),
  • summer sun exposure (r(p)=0.22, p=0.002) and
  • darker eye colour (r(p)=-0.18, p=0.015)

had the strongest associations with vitamin D metabolite levels in the MS group.

Increased summer sun exposure was associated with

  • increased grey matter volume (GMV, r(p)=0.16, p=0.019) and
  • whole brain volume (WBV, r(p)=0.20, p=0.004)

after correcting for Extended Disability Status Scale in the MS group.
Inclusion of 25-hydroxy vitamin D3 levels did not substantially affect the positive associations of sun exposure with

  • WBV (r(p)=0.18, p=0.003) and
  • GMV (r(p)=0.14, p=0.026) in the MS group.

CONCLUSIONS: Sun exposure may have direct effects on MRI measures of neurodegeneration in MS, independently of vitamin D.

PMID: 23385850

Comment by VitaminDWiki

This agrees with many previous studies which indicate that net UV may be more important than vitamin D.
However, notice that this study compares measured vitamin D levels with recalled amount of time out in the sun (for how many years)
Rather inprecise

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