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Low vitamin D levels may be linked to Parkinson's disease

July 12, 2010

Having low vitamin D levels may increase a person's risk of developing Parkinson's disease later in life, says a Finnish study.

In the observational study, vitamin D levels in blood samples of almost 3,200 Finnish men and women aged 50 to 79 were measured (1). Then the researchers followed these people over 29 years to see whether they developed Parkinson's disease. During the follow-up, 50 people developed the movement disorder. The researchers calculated that study participants with the highest levels of vitamin D had a 67 percent lower risk of developing Parkinson's disease compared with those with the lowest levels of vitamin D.

The scientists suggested that vitamin D could help to protect the nerve cells gradually lost by people with Parkinson’s disease. The disease affects several parts of the brain, leading to symptoms such as tremors and slow movements.

The optimal level of vitamin D for brain health is not yet known and needs further research, the scientists commented. However, health authorities should consider raising the target vitamin D level, they concluded.

References

  1. Knekt P. et al. Serum Vitamin D and the Risk of Parkinson Disease. Arch Neurol. 2010; 67(7):808–811.