vitamin D

Important New Research Further Demonstrates The
Benefits of Vitamins For Cognitive and Mental Function

High blood levels of vitamin D may reduce the risk of developing
Parkinson’s disease by 67 per cent, compared with low levels of
the “sunshine vitamin” says a new study from Finland.

Researchers from the National Institute for Health and Welfare in
Helsinki analysed data from 3,173 Finnish men and women aged
between 50 and 79. Over an impressive 29 years of follow-up, the
researchers documented 50 cases of Parkinson’s disease. The
study is reported to be the first longitudinal analysis of vitamin D
status and the risk of Parkinson’s disease.

Writing in the Archives of Neurology, the authors note that the
exact mechanism is unknown, but postulated that vitamin D may
be exerting a benefit through antioxidant activities, regulation of
calcium levels, detoxification, modulation of the immune system
and enhanced conduction of electricity through neurons.

“Our results are in line with the hypothesis that low vitamin D
status predicts the development of Parkinson disease,” write the
researchers. “Because of the small number of cases and the
possibility of residual confounding, large cohort studies are needed.
In intervention trials focusing on effects of vitamin D supplements,
the incidence of Parkinson disease merits follow up.”

The study has been described “the first promising human data to
suggest that inadequate vitamin D status is associated with the
risk of developing Parkinson’s disease” and  “further work is needed
in both basic and clinical arenas to elucidate the exact role,
mechanisms and optimum concentration of vitamin D in Parkinson’s disease.” Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative condition affecting
movement and balance in more than one million Americans each
year, a figure expected to rise due to aging populations. The disease
affects nerve cells in several parts of the brain, particularly those that
use the chemical messenger dopamine to control movement.

Previous studies have shown that the part of the brain affected
most by Parkinson’s, the substantia nigra, contains high levels of
the vitamin D receptor, which suggests vitamin D may be important
for normal functions of these cells.

The new study involved the measurement of vitamin D levels in
over 3,000 people. The data showed that people with the lowest
levels of vitamin D were three times more likely to develop
Parkinson’s, compared to the group with the highest levels.

“In the interim, data from interventional studies of fractures and falls
appear to justify optimizing vitamin D levels to greater than 30 to
40 nanograms per millilitre,” they concluded.

Source: Archives of Neurology
Volume 67, Issue 7, Pages 795-797
“Beyond Vitamin Status – Is There a Role for Vitamin D
in Parkinson Disease?”

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