Washington, July 13 (ANI): For the first time, researchers have shown that low vitamin D levels can help predict whether someone will later develop Parkinson's disease, according to an editorial.
The study on vitamin D levels and Parkinson's disease risk points to the need for further research on whether vitamin D supplements can protect against the movement disorder,
The author of the editorial is Dr. Marian Evatt, assistant professor of neurology at Emory University School of Medicine and director of the Atlanta Veterans Affairs Medical Center's Movement Disorders Clinic. Researchers at Finland's National Institute for Health and Welfare measured vitamin D levels from more than 3000 people, using blood samples taken between 1978 and 1980, and then followed those people to see whether they developed Parkinson's.
It was found that people with the lowest levels of vitamin D were three times more likely to develop Parkinson's, compared to the group with the highest levels.
Vitamin D may help protect the population of neurons gradually lost by people with Parkinson's disease, wrote Evatt.
Research on animals suggests that vitamin D may protect neurons that produce dopamine from toxins.
Besides vitamin D levels, factors such as genetics and exposure to pesticides also are associated with the risk for developing Parkinson's disease.
Evatt suggested that public health authorities should consider raising the target vitamin D level above the current recommended target because of known benefits for bone health as well as potential benefits for the nervous system.
The study has been published in the July 2010 issue of Archives of Neurology. (ANI)