Source: Republished from the AMA journal Archives of Neurology
The Well: About Vitamin D (the D3 form, of course) - Its health benefits just keep rolling in via clinical studies being conducted. We already know that it offers protection against depression, asthma, multiple sclerosis, cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, the pain and damage of osteoarthritis, high blood pressure, autoimmune disorders and more. Plus, it regulates the immune system; can assist with weight loss; boost bone strength; improve mental function, and provides other basic health benefits as well.
The following study, as related to Parkinson's disease, is yet another reason to be SURE your vitamin D levels are adequate. My doctor recommends the [more informed ] level of 65 - 80 nanomoles per liter.
In yet another study to reveal the far-reaching benefits of vitamin D, researchers at the National Institute for Health and Welfare in Finland report in the July, 2010 issue of the AMA journal Archives of Neurology the finding of a correlation between reduced blood levels of vitamin D and an increased risk of developing Parkinson's disease.
The study included 3,173 participants in the Mini-Finland Health Survey who were free of Parkinson's disease between 1978 and 1980. Frozen blood samples obtained during this period were analyzed for serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D. Over the 29 year follow-up period, 50 subjects were diagnosed with Parkinson's disease.
Average vitamin D levels among the participants were approximately half of current recommended levels, which is most likely attributable to Finland's higher latitude. Those whose serum vitamin D levels were among the top 25 percent of the subjects at 50 nanomoles per liter or greater had one-third the adjusted risk of developing Parkinson's disease than that of subjects whose vitamin D levels were among the lowest fourth at less than 25 nanomoles per liter.
The investigation is the first longitudinal study to demonstrate an association between insufficient vitamin D levels and the subsequent development of Parkinson's disease. In their commentary, the authors explain that, although the exact mechanisms by which vitamin D helps protect against Parkinson's disease are not understood, the vitamin has shown neuroprotective effects via antioxidative mechanisms, immunomodulation, enhanced nerve conduction and other means.
"The vitamin D receptors and an enzyme responsible for the formation of the active form 1,25-hydroxyvitamin D have been found in high levels in the substantia nigra, the region of the brain affected most by Parkinson disease," they note. "This raises the possibility that chronic inadequacy of vitamin D leads to the loss of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra region."
"In intervention trials focusing on effects of vitamin D supplements, the incidence of Parkinson disease merits follow up," they conclude.