Preventing MS (multiple sclerosis) is possible, but it is not an exact science. One’s genetic heritage can put him or her at a higher than average risk of developing MS. A variety of environmental factors can similarly raise one’s risk for MS. While it is not possible to undo one’s genetic heritage, one can adjust the environment to reduce his or her susceptibility to the known risk factors for MS.

Geography has been shown to play a role in increasing one’s risk for developing MS: Multiple sclerosis is most prevalent in lands far away from the equator. Thus, while there is low MS incidence in sub-Saharan Africa, the disease is more prevalent in North America, Northern Europe and Southern Australia. It seems that the factor at play is vitamin D, which the human body synthesizes when it is exposed to sunlight. Vitamin D deficiency happens to be associated with MS. Individuals who do not get enough exposure to sunlight are not able to synthesize adequate vitamin D.

Alongside geography, one’s skin tone plays a role in determining how much vitamin D is synthesized when the skin is exposed to the sunlight. Darker toned people synthesize less vitamin D, especially during the winter. Hence, they are at higher risk of developing MS in high latitude regions. To address vitamin D deficiency, they need not do anything as drastic as moving to warmer climes. Increasing their dietary intake of vitamin D is a perfectly reasonable approach to meeting their bodies’ needs for the nutrient. This may be done by drinking fortified milk or taking a daily vitamin supplement that includes vitamin D. Ultimately, it is this intervention that plays a role in preventing MS among those who are predisposed to developing vitamin D deficiency-linked MS.


The Role Of Omega-3 Fatty Acids In Preventing MS


Other dietary factors have been touted to reduce one’s risk for developing MS. They include omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in fish. Hence, communities that rely significantly on fish as a source of protein are less likely to develop MS than communities that rely significantly on beef and pork. Omega-3 fatty acids are desirable for their anti-inflammatory properties. They help to minimize abnormal inflammation, which is a feature of chronic diseases like MS. Mackerel, sardines, herring and salmon are all rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids. The key to preventing multiple sclerosis is eating two or three servings of such omega-3 rich foods on a weekly basis.

Other steps that one can take in the hope of preventing multiple sclerosis include lowering the saturated fat intake, increasing the intake of dietary fiber and eating antioxidant-rich foods.