Vitamin D levels associated with Parkinson's disease risk

July 12, 2010, JAMA and Archives Journals

Individuals with higher levels of vitamin D appear to have a reduced risk of developing Parkinson's disease, according to a report in the July issue of Archives of Neurology.

Vitamin D is known to play a role in bone health and may also be linked to cancer, and , according to background information in the article. "Recently, chronically inadequate vitamin D intake was proposed to play a significant role in the of ," the authors write. "According to the suggested biological mechanism, Parkinson's disease may be caused by a continuously inadequate vitamin D status leading to a chronic loss of dopaminergic neurons in the brain."

Paul Knekt, D.P.H., and colleagues at the National Institute for Health and Welfare, Helsinki, Finland, studied 3,173 Finnish men and women age 50 to 79 who did not have Parkinson's disease at the beginning of the study, in 1978 to 1980. Participants completed questionnaires and interviews about socioeconomic and health background, underwent baseline examinations and provided blood samples for vitamin D analysis.

Over a 29-year follow-up, through 2007, 50 of the participants developed Parkinson's disease. After adjusting for potentially related factors, including physical activity and body mass index, individuals in the highest quartile (one-fourth of the study population) of serum vitamin D levels had a 67 percent lower risk of developing Parkinson's disease than those in the lowest quartile of vitamin D levels.

"Despite the overall low vitamin D levels in the study population, a dose-response relationship was found," the authors write. "This study was carried out in Finland, an area with restricted sunlight exposure, and is thus based on a population with a continuously low vitamin D status. Accordingly, the mean [average] serum vitamin D level in the present population was about 50 percent of the suggested optimal level (75 to 80 nanomoles per liter). Our findings are thus consistent with the hypothesis that chronic inadequacy of vitamin D is a risk factor for Parkinson's disease."

The exact mechanisms by which vitamin D levels may affect Parkinson's disease risk are unknown, but the nutrient has been shown to exert a protective effect on the brain through antioxidant activities, regulation of calcium levels, detoxification, modulation of the immune system and enhanced conduction of electricity through neurons, the authors note.

"In intervention trials focusing on effects of supplements, the incidence of Parkinson disease merits follow up," they conclude.

More information: Arch Neurol. 2010;67[7]:808-811.

Related Stories

Recommended for you

How your brain remembers what you had for dinner last night

January 17, 2018
Confirming earlier computational models, researchers at University of California San Diego and UC San Diego School of Medicine, with colleagues in Arizona and Louisiana, report that episodic memories are encoded in the hippocampus ...

Recording a thought's fleeting trip through the brain

January 17, 2018
University of California, Berkeley neuroscientists have tracked the progress of a thought through the brain, showing clearly how the prefrontal cortex at the front of the brain coordinates activity to help us act in response ...

Midbrain 'start neurons' control whether we walk or run

January 17, 2018
Locomotion comprises the most fundamental movements we perform. It is a complex sequence from initiating the first step, to stopping when we reach our goal. At the same time, locomotion is executed at different speeds to ...

Miles Davis is not Mozart: The brains of jazz and classical pianists work differently

January 16, 2018
Keith Jarret, world-famous jazz pianist, once answered in an interview when asked if he would ever be interested in doing a concert where he would play both jazz and classical music: "No, that's hilarious. [...] It's like ...

New study reveals why some people are more creative than others

January 16, 2018
Creativity is often defined as the ability to come up with new and useful ideas. Like intelligence, it can be considered a trait that everyone – not just creative "geniuses" like Picasso and Steve Jobs – possesses in ...

Even without nudging blood pressure up, high-salt diet hobbles the brain

January 16, 2018
A high-salt diet may spell trouble for the brain—and for mental performance—even if it doesn't push blood pressure into dangerous territory, new research has found.

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

fixer
not rated yet Jul 12, 2010
Yes indeed, Large doses of steroids do indeed minimise the symptoms of a host of diseases.
Other etablished therapies prefer to repair the body by removing steroids from the diet and the disease goes all by itself.
It's a bit late in the day to be pushing steroids at people, and "vitamin D" is the most abused steroid of all.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.