Can This Vitamin Deficiency Make Dementia Worse?
About one million Americans will be living with Parkinson's disease by 2020. Characterized by symptoms like tremors, slow movement, and rigid muscles, Parkinson's is a chronic neurodegenerative disorder—similar to Alzheimer's and dementia—that currently has no cure.
Researchers are always looking for new ways to treat the root cause and symptoms of Parkinson's, which is why a new study that draws a strong connection between vitamin D levels and Parkinson's is worth paying attention to.
What's the connection between Parkinson's and vitamin D?
This study tested the vitamin D levels of 182 patients with Parkinson's disease and compared them to the vitamin D levels of 185 healthy control subjects. The results, which were published in the journal Acta Neurologica Scandinavia, showed that the participants with Parkinson's disease had significantly lower levels of vitamin D. The results also showed that patients with lower vitamin D levels were more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety, sleep issues, and falls—which are other common symptoms associated with Parkinson's disease.
So what does this mean for the many people out there with Parkinson's? As senior author on the study Chun Feny, M.D., Ph.D., explained, "As various non-motor symptoms place a burden on individuals with Parkinson's disease and their caregivers, vitamin D might be a potential add-on therapy for improving these neglected symptoms."
Do you need a vitamin D supplement?
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that we all need to have to maintain optimal health. Vitamin D is found in certain foods, like fatty fish, cheese, and egg yolks, but we mostly get it from the sun, which triggers vitamin D production in our body.
Deficiencies in this essential vitamin are pretty common; in fact, according to a 2011 study, as many as 41.6% percent of us aren't getting adequate amounts of vitamin D. Many integrative and functional medicine doctors recommend a supplement to almost all of their patients, especially those who spend a lot of time indoors, live in colder climates, and have darker skin.
Vitamin D plays many important roles in our health, including maintaining the integrity of our bones, modulating cell growth, reducing inflammation, supporting the immune system, and promoting calcium absorption. In other words, it's really, really important to our overall health. And as we can see from this study, it appears to be important when it comes to Parkinson's disease, too.
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