A pair of researchers (the father and son team of Huang and James Newmark) presented considerable evidence that vitamin D deficiency is a cause, and possibly the major cause, of Parkinson’s disease. According to research presented in the National Institute of Health (www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov), the researchers reviewed a 1997 case report in which a patient with Parkinson’s disease steadily improved when treated daily with 4,000 IU of vitamin D.
According to www.interscience.wiley.com, Parkinson’s disease (also known as PD), is a common disease of the elderly and is a movement disorder characterized by tremor, amnesia, and loss of postural reflexes, leading to immobility and frequent falls. It results from selective loss (death) of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra region of the brain, largely developed prior to clinical diagnosis, and continuous after diagnosis, despite use of current therapeutic modalities.
In Parkinson’s disease in the United States the cause and mechanism of continued neuron cell death is currently unknown. Researchers hypothesize, based upon several lines of evidence, that documented chronically inadequate vitamin D intake in the United States, particularly in the northern states and particularly in the elderly, is a significant factor in the causes of Parkinson’s disease. This hypothesis implies that dietary aid for prevention and therapy for PD is possible.
If you check a recent article on Vitamin D content in liver (AC Archives) I point out that current safety standards issued by the FDA (ww.fda.gov) recommend only modest amounts of Vitamin D in a person’s diet. These “acceptable levels” have recently been revised (see also www.thehealthierlife.co.uk and www.fda.gov).
The site www.evitamins.com points out that Vitamin D deficiency is common in Parkinson’s disease. People with Parkinson’s often get insufficient sun exposure and have reduced levels of activity that adversely affects calcium metabolism. Low vitamin D levels in Parkinson’s disease have been reported to increase the risk of hip fracture due to osteoporosis. This risk has been significantly reduced with the use of synthetic, activated vitamin D — a prescription drug. Whether the same effect could be achieved with supplemental vitamin D remains unknown, though some doctors are now recommending 400 -1,000 IU vitamin D per day.
Further more, people with Parkinson’s disease have shown both decreased and increased levels of zinc and copper. Both nutrients function in the antioxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase (also known as SOD). SOD tends to be low in the area of the brain involved in Parkinson’s disease. In theory, therefore, low levels of zinc and copper could leave the brain susceptible to free radical damage. However, copper and zinc (as well as iron) taken in excess can also act as pro-oxidants, and all have been associated with an increased risk of developing Parkinson’s disease in preliminary research. Insufficient evidence currently exists for either recommending or avoiding supplementation with zinc and copper.
Let’s pause for just a second and point out that According to www.mercola.com, one of the easiest methods for increasing your vitamin D level is through appropriate sun exposure. That’s right: good ‘ol sunshine — free and easily accessible. Mercola.com goes on to say that you CANNOT get vitamin D from full-spectrum bulbs; it has to be a bulb that produces ultraviolet radiation — UVB specifically, as that is what causes your skin to convert cholesterol into vitamin D. It is possible to get this from a tanning booth, but the EMFs (electromagnetic fields) are of major concern (they are produced by the magnetic ballasts). It is possible to use newer electronic ballasts, though, which virtually eliminate this risk and are safe. They also use about 30 percent less electricity and produce more light so they are far more economical to run.
On a somewhat related note, if you choose to take a high-quality cod-liver oil to help you get the vitamin D your body needs every day, doctors recommend that you have your blood levels regularly checked as well, because it can be particularly dangerous not to monitor them. For a while, because of this, many doctors were of the opinion that cod liver oil might not be your ideal method of getting supplemental vitamin D. This has since been proved an over-reaction (check the AC Archives for a related article)
Cod liver oil also has valuable natural vitamin A, which somewhat limits the vitamin D toxicity. We use large amounts of cod liver oil in our clinic and have not really seen very many people overdose on it.
So there you have it: Vitamin D as a deterrent for Parkinson’s disease. Yet another of Mother Nature’s remedies that was right under our noses all the time.