Being deficient in vitamin D can increase your risk of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s

As you age, you need to get enough vitamin D, which is essential for various health functions. Doing so can help prevent a vitamin D deficiency, which is linked to added stress on the immune system and greater chance of illness. According to a study, vitamin D supplementation also offers many benefits, such as disease prevention. In fact, taking vitamin D supplements can help lower your risk of health conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, along with multiple sclerosis (MS).

The study was published in the journal JAMA Neurology.

How can vitamin D prevent Alzheimer’s, MS, and Parkinson’s?

Increasing your vitamin D levels can help prevent Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s since a vitamin D deficiency is one of the precursors for both diseases. Taking enough vitamin D can also help minimize inflammation and slow the progression of the diseases.

Neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, MS, and Parkinson’s affect the nervous system and they make the body attack its own cells due to an autoimmune response.

Alzheimer’s, the nervous system, and vitamin D

In another study, researchers discovered that vitamin D can benefit people with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. It also helped support their nervous system. To date, Alzheimer’s disease is reaching epidemic levels among the elderly. While only a handful of interventions have proven effective, vitamin D seems promising.

The results of the study suggest that individuals with very low vitamin D levels, such as less than 10 ng/mL, have an alarming 122 percent higher risk for Alzheimer’s. Meanwhile, people with less than 20 ng/mL were 51 percent more likely to be afflicted. Dangerously low levels of vitamin D is linked to the entire spectrum of diseases related to Alzheimer’s, dementia, and overall cognitive functioning.

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MS, myelin, and vitamin D

When a person has MS, the myelin in their body is destroyed. Once this happens, it damages nerves and makes them unable to trigger electrical signals in the body.

Myelin is the fatty material that coats, protects, and insulates your nerves. This material allows your nerves to quickly conduct impulses between the brain and different parts of your body. Myelin also has proteins that can be targeted by the immune system. The material coats the nerves of both the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system, and the destruction of the myelin in the central nervous system triggers most of the symptoms of MS.

Adequate vitamin D blood levels can help protect and support your immune and nervous systems to prevent the onset and progression of these conditions.

Study findings revealed that after 18 months, vitamin D significantly improved different MS symptoms and markers. Researchers noted that volunteers who had the highest levels of vitamin D (over 40 nanograms per milliliter [ng/mL]) had the least number of additional lesions.

Vitamin D supplementation also delayed MS progression. A separate 2015 study validated these health benefits of vitamin D for MS patients. (Related: Increasing evidence proves the undeniable therapeutic benefits of vitamin D.)

Parkinson’s and vitamin D deficiency

According to a 2014 paper published in the journal Neurological Sciences, vitamin D deficiencies are associated with a greater risk of Parkinson’s disease.

A separate paper published in 2015 summarized a meta-analysis of thousands of Parkinson’s patients, and the results indicated that low vitamin D levels can increase Parkinson’s risk at least two-fold. Thankfully, vitamin D supplementation can minimize Parkinson’s risk by 38 percent.

Vitamin D supplementation for disease prevention

Several studies have attested to vitamin D’s effectiveness in preventing and slowing the progression of debilitating neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, MS, and Parkinson’s. You also need this vitamin for proper immune system functioning. To maintain optimal health, keep blood levels of vitamin D at around 50 to 80 ng/mL.

Sunshine is one of the best sources for vitamin D, but for those in the Northern hemisphere, the rays of the sun are not direct enough to produce the vitamin D required for optimal health. “Conventional wisdom” also states that the recommended daily amount of vitamin D of 600 to 800 international units (IU) isn’t enough.

Depending on your current state of health, you may need to maintain at least 5,000 – 8,000 IU of vitamin D for proper supplementation. Always check with a healthcare professional before you make any dietary changes or take any supplements. You can also take vitamin D together with vitamin K, along with some healthy fats, for better absorption.

Browse other articles about the health benefits of consuming foods that contain vitamin D at

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