Vitamin D Helps Prevent Parkinson’s Disease

Mar 10, 2009 by

Vitamin D Helps Prevent Parkinson’s Disease

The health benefits of vitamin D are literally uncountable. And it is not just about its positive effects on physical health, but mental health, too.

The importance of vitamin D for good health cannot be overstated, and the following article highlights its role in brain health, and the prevention of Parkinson’s disease.

Vitamin D Insufficiency Linked to Parkinson’s Disease

by Reuben Chow

Vitamin D, also called the sunshine vitamin, has already been shown in studies to be important for a healthy immune system, preventing and even reversing cancer, as well as strong bones; it has also been linked to lower incidences of depression as well as diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and multiple sclerosis. Now, a recent study published in the Archives of Neurology has found that low levels of vitamin D could also have a part to play in the development of Parkinson’s Disease (PD).

The Theory

The potential link between lack of vitamin D and PD may, it seems, go beyond just being a case of being caused by general ill health and weak immunity. There could be another chemical link, or at least that is the hypothesized theory.

The chemical dopamine in the brain helps one to control one’s physical movements. In PD, one’s levels of dopamine are lowered because the nerve cells which make the chemical have either died or lost their usual functioning. With less dopamine, control of physical movements becomes affected, and one begins to move slowly, have stiff muscles, shake or lose balance.

Now, previous research has shown that the part of the human brain which is the most affected by PD has high levels of vitamin D receptors. It thus follows, theoretically, that vitamin D deficiency would have a negative impact on the functioning of that part of the brain, thereby translating to higher chances of getting PD.

Details of Study

For this study, the research team examined the levels of plasma 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25[OH]D) in a clinical research database at Emory University School of Medicine. The participants had been recruited into the study from May 1992 to March 2007. In all, three groups of people were compared – 99 healthy adults to act as the control group, 97 Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) patients, and 100 PD patients. The study subjects were matched for age, gender, race and geographic location.

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