Vitamin D and Vitamin D deficiency has become a hot topic among researchers and physicians over the past decade. According to many different studies, vitamin D has been linked not only to bone health, but to the prevention of diseases such as autoimmune diseases, certain cancers, obesity and cardiovascular disease. Vitamin D deficiency, according to a 2009 report in the “Archives of Internal Medicine,” has become a major health concern in the United States, with as many as 77 percent of Americans being vitamin D deficient. Recent studies have also linked vitamin D deficiency to Parkinson’s disease and muscle tremors.
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Vitamin D is a fat soluble nutrient created naturally by the body when the skin is exposed to ultraviolet B rays from the sun. It is limited in foods, though it can be found in fortified milk and oily fish such as salmon. Vitamin D is measured in the blood as 25 hydroxyvitamin D and is expressed in nanograms per milliliter, or ng/ml. The optimal range is between 30 and 80 nano grams per milliliter. If your blood level shows that you are between 20 and 30 nano grams per milliliter you are considered to be vitamin D insufficient; if your levels are below 20 nano grams per milliliter, you are considered deficient.
According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, tremors are unintentional muscle movements that occur in a rhythmic fashion. They commonly affect the hands, arms, legs, head and vocal cords. They can be a symptom of a neurological disorder, or they can occur in otherwise healthy people with no known cause. They are not generally life-threatening, but they can become embarrassing and affect daily living. There is no cure for tremors, though there are medications that may limit and control the tremors.
Parkinson’s disease is a group of motor system disorders and is a result of a loss of dopamine-producing brain cells. Parkinson’s includes four major symptoms, which are tremors, rigidity, bradykinesia or slow movement, and impaired coordination and balance. It usually affects people over age 50, and is a progressive disease. The disease progression can be different in everyone, with some people seeing symptoms gradually increase, and others having symptoms that worsen quickly. There is no cure for Parkinson’s, though medications are used to ease symptoms.
Vitamin D Deficiency and Parkinson’s Disease
Numerous studies have begun to see a connection with vitamin D deficiency, tremors and diseases such as Parkinson’s. A 2007 publication in “Movement Disorders” stated the hypothesis that vitamin D may play a role in Parkinson’s disease, and that dietary and supplemental changes may aid in the prevention and therapy of Parkinson’s. A 2010 study published in “Neuropsychobiology” showed a connection between vitamin D deficiency and neurological functions such as tremors. The researchers concluded that correcting vitamin D deficiency may reduce the number of neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease and neuromuscular disorders that are diagnosed.
With more Americans deficient in vitamin D and with it being linked to many disorders and diseases, knowing your vitamin D level is important. Consult with your physician and have your vitamin D levels tested. If you are vitamin D deficient, you physician will be able to treat and regulate your vitamin D levels and recommend a supplement plan for you.
- Archives of Internal Medicine; Demographic Differences and Trends of Vitamin D Insufficiency in the US Population; Adit A. Ginde, M.D., et al.
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Vitamin D
- National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke; Tremor Fact Sheet
- National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke; NINDS Parkinson’s Disease Information Page
- Movement Disorders; Vitamin D and Parkinson’s Disease – A Hypothesis; H.L. Newmark and J. Newmark
- Neuropsychobiology; Vitamin D and Ageing: Neurological Issues; C. Annweiler, et al.