Vitamin D: An Essential Vitamin
Vitamin D is an important vitamin, yet not many people know about its many uses. It is a vitamin which is fat-soluble and which is stored in body tissues that contain fat after its consumption. Vitamin D is helpful in absorbing minerals such as calcium. Calcium is needed by the bones and teeth for growth and repair. Once there is not enough calcium or vitamin D, there is decreased production of bone tissues, a condition known as rickets in children or as osteoporosis in adults. Aside from this function, Vitamin D can boost immune function so that the body can fight against diseases. It can also help maintain other organ systems and can help protect against heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, arthritis and cancers. Lately, there are reports that Vitamin D can also protect against neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s dementia and Parkinson’s disease.
Vitamin D can be absorbed through exposure to morning sunlight; it is in this way that most people can achieve their daily recommended dietary allowances of vitamin D. However, there are a few foods that actually contain Vitamin D such as fatty fish, eggs, cheese, liver, dairy products and mushrooms. Some foods available in supermarkets nowadays are also fortified with Vitamin D; examples include Vitamin D fortified cereals, soy milk, fruits juice and margarine. Vitamin D can also be available as supplements in the form of Vitamin D2 or ergocalciferol and Vitamin D3 or cholecalciferol.
To get the recommended allowance for vitamin D you should be exposed for 10 to 15 minutes of sunshine for about three times a week. Areas of your body should be exposed to sunlight such as your arms, legs, back and face. Another way of absorbing vitamin D is through food. The recommended daily allowance for children and adults below 70 years old is 600 IU or 15 mcg per day. Adults who are over 70 years of age need about 800 IU or 20 mcg/day of Vitamin D. Excess intake of vitamin D can lead to vitamin D toxicity which can cause calcium deposits in parts of the body, kidney damage, kidney stones, vomiting, nausea, constipation, weakness and weight loss.
Vitamin D and Parkinson's Disease
Recently there is a new study which says that adequate levels of Vitamin D can prevent cognitive decline and can alleviate depression, especially in patients with Parkinson's disease. The results of this study are published in the Journal of Parkinson’s Disease. In this study, about 286 patients with Parkinson's disease were studied. The researchers found out that symptoms were less severe, cognition is improved and depression is lesser.
Parkinson's disease is a medical condition wherein there is involuntary shaking or tremors of limbs and other parts of the body, stiffness of the muscles or cogwheel rigidity and slow movements which are termed as bradykinesia. This is a result of damage on the part of the brain called substantia nigra which continuous progressively all throughout the years. Damage of the substantia nigra reduces the production of dopamine in the brain leading to the movement disorders associated with Parkinson's disease. Dementia and cognitive impairment can also result from this disease.
There is no cure for Parkinson's disease although its symptoms can be minimized by medications, one of which is levodopa. Physiotherapy and speech therapy can also benefit other patients.
In the above-mentioned study, motor function fluency and immediate and delayed recall were improved in patients who have higher vitamin D3 levels. For those patients who had no dementia, depression was lower among those with higher Vitamin D3 levels.
More studies are needed to confirm whether Vitamin D levels truly have effects on cognition and depression on patients with Parkinson's disease. Meanwhile, check out team recommended e-book on coping with Parkinson’s – Parkinson”s Disease Natural Guide 32 pgs
or take a look at Doctor Tipster articles for interesting facts on other neurological diseases