People with Parkinson’s disease (PD) had low vitamin D levels and PD patients taking the pharmaceutical drug, levodopa, had low folate and vitamin B12 levels, in two new studies.
Brain nerve cells involved in PD have large numbers of vitamin D receptors, meaning they need vitamin D. In this study, doctors wanted to test for a link between PD and low vitamin D. Researchers measured vitamin D levels in about 100 participants with PD, 100 with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and 100 healthy individuals. More than half of those with PD (55 percent) had low vitamin D levels compared to 41 percent for those with AD and 36 percent for healthy folks. Study authors
found that “vitamin D deficiency may have a unique association with Parkinson’s” and noted that new studies are now underway to see if vitamin D can reduce the severity of PD.
Levodopa, the most effective PD drug, is also a natural substance in the body that converts to the nerve-signaling chemical dopamine which permits muscles to move smoothly. Without dopamine, muscles tremble and stiffen. In this study, researchers found that in more than 100 participants with PD who were taking levodopa, blood levels of folate and vitamin B12 were lower compared to a similar group without PD.
Archives of Neurology; 2008, Vol. 65, No. 10, 1348-52.