Parkinson’s disease is a serious, debilitating health condition that causes stiffness, tremors, and lowness of movement due to inadequate levels of dopamine in the brain. In a 2008 study, researchers at the Emory University School of Medicine found that low vitamin D levels may be associated with Parkinson’s disease. In the study, researchers found that 55 percent of Parkinson’s patients had insufficient vitamin D levels, compared with 36 percent in a group of healthy elderly participants. Lead researcher summarized the results: “We found that vitamin D insufficiency may have a unique association with Parkinson’s, which is intriguing and warrants further investigation”.
Autoimmune diseases (such as rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and type I diabetes) occur when the body launches an immune attack against is own tissues. Researchers have found that one type of immune cell, T cells, are responsible for mediating immune response, and that vitamin D is an important modulator of immune response, thus potentially diminishing the severity of autoimmune disease. Animal studies confirm that vitamin D therapy can be beneficial in cases of rheumatoid arthritis, type I diabetes and multiple sclerosis.
According to the American Dietetic Association, the daily tolerable upper intake level of vitamin D for children and adults is 2,000 IU. To prevent vitamin D toxicity and any long-term damage it may cause, do not exceed the 2,000 IU daily limit. Additionally, people who eat large quantities of fish or drink large amounts of fortified milk should use caution when taking supplemental vitamin D.
Long-term, excessive vitamin D intake can lead to serious health conditions, including bone loss; calcification of the heart, lungs, and kidneys; and deafness due to calcification of the tympanic membrane of the ear.
Possible symptoms of vitamin D toxicity include nausea, excessive thirst, appetite loss, dizziness and headaches. If you think you may be suffering from vitamin D toxicity, please see your physician. In addition, individuals with gout, rheumatoid arthritis and hyperthyroidism should consult with their physician before taking more than 400 IU of vitamin D per day.
The Bottom Line
Most of us aren’t getting enough sunshine, and that means not enough vitamin D. Our health may be suffering as a result. Vitamin D is essential to many bodily functions and may even prevent serious chronic illnesses. Make sure you’re getting enough vitamin D by enjoying the sunshine and by taking a daily vitamin D supplement. Try Vitamin D manufactured by company called USANA Health Sciences.
Vitamin D Fast Facts
Uses and Benefits: Vitamin D is essential for normal calcium metabolism and acts as a potent immune system modulator. Vitamin D plays a role in insulin secretion under some circumstances and may reduce the risk of high blood pressure. Vitamin D may also help prevent osteoporosis, some cancers and some autoimmune diseases.
Sources: The primary source of vitamin D is the sun’s ultraviolet rays, which stimulate vitamin D-production in the skin. Food sources of vitamin D are limited and include eggs and fatty fish. Milk is often fortified with vitamin D, as is some orange juice and some cereals.
Special Considerations: Vitamin D is fat soluble and excess amounts are stored in the body; too much vitamin D can lead to toxicity (hypervitaminosis D), which may cause abnormally high calcium levels (hypercalcemia). If left untreated, hypercalcemia may cause bone loss, kidney stones, and calcification of the heart, kidneys and other organs.