(NaturalHealth365) Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative brain disorder that affects another 50,000 to 60,000 Americans each year. Complications from Parkinson’s disease make it the 14th most common cause of death in the United States. It attacks the dopamine-producing cells in your brain – leading to debilitating motor dysfunction.
Although it may be difficult to diagnosis Parkinson’s in its early stages, some of the early warning signs include, tremors, loss of smell and sudden changes to sleep patterns like thrashing around or falling out of bed.
The connection between Parkinson’s disease and low vitamin D levels
You may think about bone health and osteoporosis when you think about the importance of vitamin D, but this essential nutrient helps protect against many other chronic conditions. In addition to increasing your risk for type-2 diabetes and heart disease, vitamin D deficiency is a risk factor for Parkinson’s disease.
One research study, published in the journal Archives of Neurology, analyzed vitamin D content in blood samples collected from 3,173 participants who were free from Parkinson’s disease at the time. Over the next 29 years, researchers tracked which participants developed the condition. Study participants with the lowest baseline levels of vitamin D were more likely to develop Parkinson’s disease versus individuals with the highest baseline levels.
How can I get enough vitamin D?
Three-quarters of United States adults and teens have low vitamin D levels, so it’s important to focus on getting enough. The best way to generate sufficient levels of vitamin D is by exposing yourself to sunlight. Unfortunately, if you live anywhere north of San Diego, California or Orlando, Florida, the angle of the sun makes it difficult to get sufficient sunlight exposure. In addition, most people are told to avoid the sun, between the hours of 10 am and 2 pm – yet this is when the sun can most likely help your body to produce vitamin D.
Obviously, in the wintertime, the angle of the sun makes it less potent on the body, so your skin may not be able to produce enough vitamin D. Some other things to consider include:
- Older adults are less able to synthesize vitamin D.
- If you use sunscreen, you probably won’t be able to produce enough vitamin D – not to mention the toxic ingredient exposure of most commercially-produced sunblock lotions.
- Finally, individuals with darker skin will have a greater need for sun exposure versus lighter skinned people.
Can we get enough vitamin D (naturally) from our diet?
Practically speaking, the answer would have to be ‘no way’. In fact, most foods found in the supermarket are ‘fortified’ with synthetic vitamin D – which can be extremely toxic to the body. But, although sunlight is the best way to get enough vitamin D, there are many foods richer in naturally-occurring vitamin D than others.
Surprising to most people, the best food source of vitamin D is sun-dried shitake and button mushrooms. Why are they so high in vitamin D? Probably, because they are great at sucking up sunlight.
Other rich sources of vitamin D, in foods, would be mackerel, wild-caught salmon, herring, sardines, cod liver oil and free-range eggs from a local farmer, if possible. Just a small (3 ½ ounce) portion of fatty fish can provide up to 90 percent of your recommended daily allowance of vitamin D. But, if you’re concerned about heavy metal exposure, limit your daily consumption of fish.
Should I take a vitamin D supplement or not?
If you want to achieve adequate vitamin D status to avoid a higher risk for Parkinson’s disease, you may need to take a vitamin D supplement. Search for a supplement that contains vitamin D3, the active form in your body, instead of vitamin D2. The Food and Nutrition Board recommends a minimum of 400 to 600 IU vitamin D per day, and the Vitamin D Council suggests the following daily goals for supplementation.
- Infants: 1,000 IU
- Children: 1,000 IU per 25 pounds body weight.
- Adults: 5,000 IU
Nobody wants to unintentionally increase their risk for Parkinson’s disease, and the latest research shows that preventing low vitamin D levels can help lower your risk. If you can’t get enough vitamin D from the sun and your diet, supplements can reduce your risk for Parkinson’s disease and other chronic diseases.
http://www.parkinson.org/parkinson-s-disease.aspx, http://www.lef.org//newsletter/2010/7/low-vitamin-d-levels-can-predict-parkinsons-disease/page-01?source=search&key=parkinsons%20disease, http://www.vitamindcouncil.org/about-vitamin-d/how-do-i-get-the-vitamin-d-my-body-needs/#