Connect with others who understand.

sign up log in
About MyParkinsonsTeam

Vitamin D and Parkinson’s: Benefits and Uses

Posted on July 08, 2021
Medically reviewed by
Evelyn O. Berman, M.D.
Article written by
Anika Brahmbhatt

If you have Parkinson’s disease (PD), you may be curious about the role vitamin D plays in your symptoms and the condition’s progression. “My blood work shows that I am very low on vitamin D. Does this have anything to do with PD?” asked one MyParkinsonsTeam member.

One 2020 study indicated that “a high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency has been noted in PD and also other neurological diseases for at least the past two decades.” But the evidence of causality between vitamin D and Parkinson’s symptoms and progression is still unclear.

In order to make informed decisions about whether you should add more vitamin D to your diet, it’s a good idea to think about a few key considerations.

What Is Vitamin D?

Vitamin D is a nutrient that your body needs to make your muscles move, help your nerves send signals, and allows your immune system to fight off bacteria and viruses that can make you sick. Vitamin D is also important so bones can absorb the calcium they need to be strong and healthy.

There are two kinds of vitamin D: vitamin D2 and vitamin D3. Vitamin D2 is mostly found in plants, mushrooms, and yeast. Vitamin D3 can be found in oily fish and is also made in the body during sun exposure. Additionally, vitamin D3 is later converted to 25-hydroxy-cholecalciferol, which helps turn on and off the genes that allow vitamin D to carry out its function in the body.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, foods that are good sources of vitamin D include:

  • Beef liver
  • Fortified cereal
  • Fish (such as salmon, sardines, swordfish, and cod liver oil)
  • Egg yolks
  • Fortified milk and orange juice

Your body breaks vitamin D down into its active form, called 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D — which is also known as calcitriol and can be found as a supplement. This active form of vitamin D can affect the cells involved in the immune system.

Vitamin D Levels in People With Parkinson’s

Vitamin D levels have consistently been found to be lower in people with PD than in the general population. There are several potential reasons for this, and not all of them point toward direct causality. For example, one potential reason why lower levels of vitamin D are found in people with Parkinson’s may be because they engage in fewer outdoor activities and thus have less sun exposure.

However, studies have shown that vitamin D levels have the potential to affect many nonmotor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, possibly including verbal fluency and memory, mood, and olfactory impairment. In addition, one of the most replicated findings is that serum levels of vitamin D may be associated with PD’s motor symptoms.

A vitamin D deficiency may relate to higher levels of nitric oxide, which can damage your neurons. More research is needed to determine conclusively whether low vitamin D levels put you at an increased risk for Parkinson’s disease.

Some people consider taking vitamin D supplements to make up for deficiencies. Talk to your health care team if you’re considering adding vitamin D supplements to your diet, particularly because there is a risk of taking too much. “Sometimes, I just get a little (no — a lot) overwhelmed with vitamins and drugs,” shared one MyParkinsonsTeam member.

The Office of Dietary Supplements warns that too much vitamin D can cause nausea and vomiting, muscle weakness, confusion, pain, dehydration, and kidney stones, among other side effects. Vitamin D can also interact with some medications, so don’t start any supplementation plan before speaking with your physician.

Talk With People Who Understand

On MyParkinsonsTeam, the social network and online support group for people with Parkinson’s and their loved ones, members discuss the chronic nature of the disease. Here, more than 77,000 members from across the world come together to ask questions, offer advice and support, and share stories with others who understand life with Parkinson’s.

Are you working to increase your vitamin D intake? Share your experience in the comments below, or start a conversation on MyParkinsonsTeam.

Evelyn O. Berman, M.D. is a neurology and pediatric specialist and treats disorders of the brain in children. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Learn more about her here.
Anika Brahmbhatt is an undergraduate student at Boston University, where she is pursuing a dual degree in media science and psychology. Learn more about her here.

A MyParkinsonsTeam Member said:

I've got a neighbor who is expecting, she stands in the sun for 10 to 15 minutes a day. She says that her vitamin D. I laughed and said my tan comes from a tube. I thought it was funny. LOL 🤣🤣
Blessi… read more

edited, originally posted about 6 hours ago

hug

Recent articles

Parkinson’s disease (PD) is more than a disorder of movement and motor function. Cognitive...

Memory Function and Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease (PD) is more than a disorder of movement and motor function. Cognitive...
Lewy body dementia (LBD) is an umbrella term for two types of similar dementias: dementia with...

Lewy Body Dementia: Diagnosis and Treatment

Lewy body dementia (LBD) is an umbrella term for two types of similar dementias: dementia with...
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine booster...

COVID-19 Vaccine Boosters and Additional Doses for People With Parkinson's: Current Guidelines

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine booster...
People often think of Parkinson’s disease as simply a movement disorder, but it also has nonmotor...

Behavioral Changes and Parkinson's

People often think of Parkinson’s disease as simply a movement disorder, but it also has nonmotor...
This week, PD Warrior founder Melissa McConaghy and head online coach Jason King demonstrate...

Exercise Your Whole Body With the PD Warrior Circuit

This week, PD Warrior founder Melissa McConaghy and head online coach Jason King demonstrate...
This week, PD Warrior founder Melissa McConaghy and physical therapist Camille Mance present and...

Move Well With These Exercises for Early-Stage Parkinson’s

This week, PD Warrior founder Melissa McConaghy and physical therapist Camille Mance present and...
This week, PD Warrior founder Melissa McConaghy and physical therapist Camille Mance demonstrate...

Boost Your Agility With These PD Exercises

This week, PD Warrior founder Melissa McConaghy and physical therapist Camille Mance demonstrate...
If you struggle with a quiet speaking voice, you’re not alone. Changes in speech and vocal...

Voice Problems and Parkinson’s: Causes and Management

If you struggle with a quiet speaking voice, you’re not alone. Changes in speech and vocal...
There’s no specific diet that’s recommended for Parkinson’s disease (PD), but what you eat does...

Parkinson’s Diet and Nutrition: Which Foods To Eat and Avoid

There’s no specific diet that’s recommended for Parkinson’s disease (PD), but what you eat does...
This week, PD Warrior founder Melissa McConaghy and head online coach Jason King demonstrate how...

Tackle Parkinson’s Tremor With Targeted Exercises

This week, PD Warrior founder Melissa McConaghy and head online coach Jason King demonstrate how...
MyParkinsonsTeam My Parkinson's disease Team

Two Ways to Get Started with MyParkinsonsTeam

Become a Member

Connect with others who are living with Parkinson's disease. Get members only access to emotional support, advice, treatment insights, and more.

sign up

Become a Subscriber

Get the latest articles about Parkinson's disease sent to your inbox.

Not now, thanks

Privacy policy
MyParkinsonsTeam My Parkinson's disease Team

Thank you for signing up.

close