Remember how we’re always going off about the importance of getting enough vitamin D in your life? How outdoor activity – and vitamin D producing sunlight – is important for any Primal Blueprinter? It seems some recent scientific research is again making this point for us.
Vitamin D and Parkinson’s
Come to think of it, I’ve never heard of a cat with Parkinson’s…
Scientists already know that vitamin D is a basically benign, beneficial addition to anyone’s health regimen (you’ll see just how helpful some scientists think it can be in the next section). They also know that Parkinson’s disease most affects the substantia nigra, a part of the brain with incredibly high levels of vitamin D receptors. Following basic common (neurological) sense, that would suggest that vitamin D plays a major role in the function of the substantia nigra. Another, potentially logical step is to assume that vitamin D and Parkinson’s disease are therefore related. With that in mind, Emory University scientists took a look at vitamin D levels  in both healthy elderly people and people afflicted with Parkinson’s disease. They discovered that a link between vitamin D deficiency and Parkinson’s disease definitely exists – it’s just that they’re not yet sure if low levels of vitamin D cause Parkinson’s, or if Parkinson’s causes low levels of vitamin D.
Correlation has been established – 55% of elderly Parkinson’s patients suffer from low levels of the crucial vitamin, as opposed to just 36% of healthy elderly people. And causation seems apparent, but it’s the classic “chicken or the egg” scenario. Scientists just aren’t sure which is the chicken, and which is the egg.
Obviously, further investigation is needed. The research team hopes to discover at which stage in the development of Parkinson’s does vitamin D deficiency occur, for one. And they also plan on looking into dietary supplementation as a treatment for Parkinson’s disease. If these avenues are pursued, we should have a pretty clear outlook on the link between Parkinson’s and vitamin D.
This kid doesn’t have rickets. Coincidence? We think not.
It’s a damn good idea to take vitamin D. Don’t take our word for it, though; the American Academy of Pediatrics has just doubled their daily recommended dose of vitamin D  to 400 IU. That may be the new recommended dosage for children (see: Pediatrics) rather than adults, but adults are people too, so it’s a good idea for everyone to get plenty of vitamin D. But what can vitamin D do for you, exactly (besides potentially help Parkinson’s patients)? Well – considering that vitamin D deficiencies have been shown to cause rickets, lethargy, growth failure, irritability, infant respiratory infections, and late life osteoporosis – quite a bit.
That’s not all, though. New research suggests that vitamin D may shore up our bodies’ first lines of defense and play a huge role in the prevention of autoimmune diseases. One scientist even calls vitamin D a “hormone” that “acts directly on cells to promote gene transcription.” According to him, no other vitamin wields such power and influence in our bodies.
Though we are skeptical of any recommendations that come from the American Academy of Pediatrics after their recent recommendation to give statins to children (seriously, read it and weep ), we’re going to have to side with them on this one.
It’s Saturday, people! If the sun is shining, get out and bask in those healthy rays!
~Jetta Girl~ , monagrrl  Flickr Photos (CC)
Let the Sun Shine In