On the heels of several studies linking vitamin D deficiencies to general cognitive disorders, new research has found that low serum levels of the nutrient may also be partially responsible for the development of Parkinson’s disease.
For the study, Paul Knekt and his colleagues from the National Institute for Health and Welfare in Helsinki, Finland, recruited nearly 3,200 healthy men and women between the ages of 50 and 79, and took blood samples to assess their vitamin D levels.
Over the next three decades, a total of 50 respondents developed Parkinson’s disease.
After adjusting for potential risk factors, the research team found that participants who had the highest baseline vitamin D levels were 67 percent less likely to be diagnosed with Parkinson’s than those with the lowest levels.
The "study provides the first promising human data to suggest that inadequate vitamin D status is associated with the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, but 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," wrote Marian Leslie, of Emory University, in an accompanying editorial.
While the researchers have yet to define the mechanism responsible for the apparent protective benefit of vitamin D concerning Parkinson’s disease, they suggest that the nutrient improves brain function through antioxidant activities, regulation of calcium levels and detoxification.