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Vitamin D May Slash Parkinson’s Risk

Scientists from the National Institute for Health and Welfare in Finland recently found that vitamin D may reduce the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. They published their findings in the July 2010 issue of the Archives of Neurology.

For the study, over 3,000 men and women in Finland between 50 and 79 years of age were followed over a 29 year period from 1978 to 2007. During the course of the study 50 cases of Parkinson’s were diagnosed.

The researchers found that participants in the top 25% in terms of vitamin D levels had an impressive 67% reduction in Parkinson’s risk compared to those in the lowest 25%. This relationship remained true even after the researchers accounted for other variables including physical activity levels and body mass index.

The researchers were not able to offer any explanations for how vitamin D may lower the risk of Parkinson’s. However, they highlighted the fact that previous studies have shown that the vitamin may exert a protective effect on the brain through antioxidant activities, regulation of calcium levels and detoxification.

Vitamin D has also been shown to play a role in bone health and in boosting the immune system and may be linked to heart disease and type-2 diabetes.

One way to increase vitamin D levels is through exposure to the sun. For many people in colder climates however (such as those in this study) the sun simply isn’t enough. This is especially true for mature adults because our skin becomes less efficient at synthesizing the vitamin as we age.

For this reason, many people take a daily vitamin D supplement or incorporate more vitamin D fortified foods into their diet. Some foods that are often fortified with vitamin D are yogurt, milk, orange juice, cereals and margarine.

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