Study: Lack of Vitamin D May Precede Onset of Parkinson's

But levels of the vitamin don't decline as disease progresses, researchers add

MONDAY, March 14 (HealthDay News) -- A lack of vitamin D is common among people with early Parkinson's disease, but levels of the vitamin don't decrease as the disease progresses, a new study says.

"Vitamin D insufficiency has been associated with a variety of clinical disorders and chronic diseases, including impaired balance, decreased muscle strength, mood and cognitive dysfunction, autoimmune disorders such as multiple sclerosis and diabetes (types 1 and 2), and certain forms of cancer," the study authors wrote as background information for their research. "Vitamin D insufficiency has been reported to be more common in patients with Parkinson disease (PD) than in healthy control subjects, but it is not clear whether having a chronic disease causing reduced mobility contributes to this relatively high prevalence."

The researchers looked at 157 people with early, untreated Parkinson's disease and found that 69.4 percent had some lack of vitamin D, and 26.1 percent had vitamin D deficiency at the start of the study.

"At the end point/final visit, these percentages fell to 51.6 percent and 7 percent, respectively," wrote Dr. Marian L. Evatt, of Emory University School of Medicine and the Atlanta Veterans Affairs Medical Center, and colleagues.

The study was published in the March issue of the journal Archives of Neurology.

"Contrary to our expectations that vitamin D levels might decrease over time because of disease-related inactivity and reduced sun exposure, vitamin D levels increased over the study period," the researchers wrote.

"These findings are consistent with the possibility that long-term insufficiency is present before the clinical manifestations of PD and may play a role in the pathogenesis of PD," they added.

More information

We Move has more about Parkinson's disease.

Robert Preidt SOURCE: JAMA/Archives journals, news release, March 14, 2011

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