Vitamin D Insufficiency is Linked to Parkinson’s Disease

Low levels of vitamin D in the body have been associated with many health disorders and chronic diseases, including impaired balance, reduction in muscle strength, cognitive dysfunction and autoimmune disorders like multiple sclerosis.  Also shown to have preventative properties, vitamin D has been found to be essential to good bone health and may be linked to the prevention of heart disease, some forms of cancer and type II diabetes.
 
Recently another hopeful discovery was made involving vitamin D.  According to a report published in the July 2010 issue of the Archives of Neurology, a diet high in vitamin D appears to reduce an individual’s risk of developing Parkinson’s disease.
 
According to research, continual vitamin D insufficiency may cause inadequate dopaminergic neurons in the brain.  Steady low levels of these neurons may in turn lead to the development of Parkinson's disease.

At the moment, this debilitating disease affects up to one million aging adults in the U. S.  A disorder of the brain, Parkinson’s disease can lead to tremors, rigid and aching muscles, slow or reduced movement (bradykinesia), limited arm swing on one side of the body, weakness of muscles in the face and throat and problems with coordination and balance.
 
Research published in the summer of 2010 examined 3,173 Finnish men and women from 50 to 79 years of age who did not have Parkinson's disease at the onset of the study.  Paul Knekt, D.P.H. and a team at the National Institute for Health and Welfare of Helsinki, Finland studied the participants who were followed over a 29-year period in which 50 of the subjects developed Parkinson's disease.  It was found that the subjects with the highest levels of vitamin D had a 67 percent lower risk of developing Parkinson's disease than subjects with low levels of vitamin D.

More research is needed into the affect of vitamin D insufficiency on developing Parkinson’s disease.  It is not yet understood if low levels of vitamin D increase the risk of developing Parkinson’s or if having high levels of the vitamin can prevent the disease.  An association has been determined, but researchers cannot say whether it is causal.
 
Vitamin D can be obtained through exposure to sunlight – typically 15 minutes without sunscreen is an adequate daily amount.  It is also found in food such as salmon, tuna, fortified milk and orange juice, and vitamin D is available in supplement form – either alone or in a multi-vitamin.

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