Researchers out of Harvard have found that those with Parkinson’s disease are more likely to have vitamin D deficiency compared to healthy adults.
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a debilitating disease that effects the body’s central nervous system. It gets worse over time, and people with PD often develop tremors, rigidness in movement and poor postural stability.
There are an estimated seven million worldwide and one million in the United States living with PD. Sixty thousand new cases are diagnosed each year in the United States alone.
Vitamin D is important for people with PD, as proper vitamin D intake can reduce falls and fractures, a common and serious concern for patients with PD.
In this recent study, researchers looked at 388 patients with PD and 283 control subjects from the Harvard Biomarker Study. While they measured many things, one of the things they measured were vitamin D levels.
They found that nearly 18% of those with PD were deficient in vitamin D compared to 9% of the control group.
Furthermore, the researchers found a correlation between vitamin D levels and severity of disease. Those with the lowest levels of vitamin D were in more severe stages of PD. This association was stronger among males.
One limitation of the study was that only patients from the Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital were sampled. Researchers note that future studies should examine minority populations who may be at a greater risk for deficiency.
The study concluded by saying, “These data suggest that patients with PD should be included among the categories of individuals at high risk of vitamin D deficiency who warrant…vitamin D treatment.”
Ding, H. et. al. Unrecognized vitamin D3 deficiency is common in Parkinson disease. American Academy of Neurology, 2013.