Over half of all Parkinson's patients have insufficient levels vitamin D according to a recent study from Emory University. This finding further supports the hypothesis that inadequate vitamin D levels may contribute to neurodegenerative disorders in general, such as Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease. Parkinson's patients were found to be the more likely than Alzheimer's patients to be vitamin D deficient, while both groups are more likely to be vitamin D deficient than healthy adults.
Due to the nature of these illnesses, the populations afflicted with these diseases have many of the principle risk factors associated with low levels of vitamin D: a lack of exposure to sunlight, being overweight, and advanced age. Despite these shared risks that both diseases present, those with Parkinson's are considerably more likely to have the lowest levels of vitamin D.
"We found that vitamin D insufficiency may have a unique association with Parkinson's, which is intriguing and warrants further investigation," said Marian Evatt, MD, assistant professor of neurology at Emory, first author of the study.
Here is a little excerpt from the Eureka Alert bulletin which is linked to in full below:
Previous studies have shown that the part of the brain affected most by Parkinson's, the substantia nigra, has high levels of the vitamin D receptor, which suggests vitamin D may be important for normal functions of these cells, Evatt says. Emory clinicians are conducting further research to investigate whether vitamin D insufficiency is a cause or possibly a result of having Parkinson's. In a pilot study, Parkinson's patients are receiving either standard or larger doses of vitamin D, with an eye towards possibly reducing the severity of their condition.
The full results of this study are published in the current issue of Archives of Neurology: Prevalence of Vitamin D Insufficiency in Patients With Parkinson Disease and Alzheimer Disease
Eureka Alert: Lack of vitamin D linked to Parkinson's disease