Skip to comments.Low vitamin D levels 'linked to Parkinson's disease'
Posted on 05/23/2011 8:07:07 PM PDT by neverdem
Having low vitamin D levels may increase a person's risk of developing Parkinson's disease later in life, say Finnish researchers.
Their study of 3,000 people, published in Archives of Neurology, found people with the lowest levels of the sunshine vitamin had a three-fold higher risk.
Vitamin D could be helping to protect the nerve cells gradually lost by people with the disease, experts say.
The charity Parkinson's UK said further research was required.
Parkinson's disease affects several parts of the brain, leading to symptoms like tremor and slow movements.
The researchers from Finland's National Institute for Health and Welfare measured vitamin D levels from the study group between 1978 and 1980, using blood samples.
They then followed these people over 30 years to see whether they developed Parkinson's disease.
They found that people with the lowest levels of vitamin D were three times more likely to develop Parkinson's, compared with the group with the highest levels of vitamin D.
Most vitamin D is made by the body when the skin is exposed to sunlight, although some comes from foods like oily fish, milk or cereals.
As people age, however, their skin becomes less able to produce vitamin D.
Doctors have known for many years that vitamin D helps calcium uptake and bone formation.
But research is now showing that it also plays a role in regulating the immune system, as well as in the development of the nervous system.
Writing in an editorial in the US journal Archives of Neurology, Marian Evatt, assistant professor of neurology at Emory University School of Medicine, says that health authorities should consider raising the target vitamin D level.
"At this point, 30 nanograms per millilitre of blood or more appears optimal for bone health in humans...
(Excerpt) Read more at bbc.co.uk ...
For years I heard people in the upper midwest are more likely to develop this. Being that those places are the one with severe weather in winter (leading to less sunlight) this might make sense.
They speak of increased exposure to sunlight but, considering the latitudes of the UK, that seems a bad joke to me.
Thanks for the ping. Very interesting...
To be honest, I think modern lifestyle makes it difficult for anyone to get enough sunlight anyway. We cover up, we stay inside most of the day, we use sunscreen, etc. I recently had my D levels redone tho, after having been on 5000 iu per day for well over a year. I’m now up from 15 (I think that’s what I started at) to now 64. That’s a significant increase.
I agree. In the northern hemisphere we are in the period of the longest days of the year right now. Don't know about you but I'm not getting much beneficial sunlight.
5000 i.u. supplementally on a daily basis is the optimum for good health, plus sunshine! Throw in some B complex, 2000 mg.s C, 400 i.u. E , CoQ 10 and some Vitamin K3 should supplement the average healthy lifestyle American.
Eat organic, avoid gmo’s ( corn, soy, alfalfa and all other Monsanto tainted seeds) You should be good to go with a good probiotic, these diseases live in your gut..a.k.a. “leaky gut syndrome”.
Yes, I don’t get nearly enough sunlight, and at my age, I hate to get much more unprotected sun exposure.
I do take a B complex as well, per my neuros orders.
The rest of it I’m not going to get into a discussion on an online forum about. You can find as many different suggestions as you can people, so let suffice it to say, I do what I think is right for me, as I’m sure you do for yourself. :)
Sunshine is God’s gift to us all.
Get as much as you can, I am no “spring chicken” myself but I am outside every time the sun comes out in the NE.
I am too old to worry about wrinkles, but coconut oil makes your skin feel terrific!
Thank you. He blesses me every day. I worry more about skin cancer than wrinkles. It’s a little late to worry about those. :) But I don’t bother with sun block. I just go outside when I go outside. I have to admit, the sun feels so good on your skin. I think there’s a reason for that.
Oh, and we live in S. FL. Lots of sunshine here.
Dr. John Cannell at vitamindcouncil.org has published a theory blaming the epidemic of autism we’re now experiencing on the sun avoidance of the past two decades. I think he’s onto something, given some of the letters he’s received from parents who then put their autistic children on vitamin D3 supplements.
Researchers suspect that a host of diseases are influenced by a vitamin d deficiency. I take 5,000 IU in the winter in Wisconsin, and have found that that’s enough to raise my level into the 60-70 ng/ml area, and have also found that I drop into the 30’s taking 1,000 IU in the summer, even though I’m outside a lot. My conclusion is that for my body weight, I should be taking 5,000 or a little less in winter and probably 3,000 or so in the summer to maintain 70-80 ng/ml, which is where I want to be.
I test in April/May to get the end of winter reading and in Sep/Oct to get the end of summer reading and adjust accordingly. Anyone supplementing vitamin D3 should do similar testing until they’ve determined the amount they need to take, because the excess is stored in the body and you can build up too much.
You can add Multiple Sclerosis to that list. The fact is, that vitamin D was once used as a therapy for a lot of diseases, but they used (in some cases) extremely high doses (500k to 1MIL I.U.), and swung the other way. A person, from what I’ve read needs about 30K I.U. per day, and that you could feesibly get that from a dose of about 40 min or so (IIRC), if you were sunbathing and had full exposure. Most people get virtually NO sun exposure these days, so I personally believe that we’re seeing a huge increase in a lot of other diseases that our own immune systems could fight.
For some time, I worked the graveyard shift. I live in a norther state (Border with Idaho), and we have harsh winters. My boss recommended taking vitamin D supplements, which I now do, because he was found deficient and had great pain throughout his body, lethargy, and weakness. I try to take about 10-20K in supplement, and get as much exposure as I can, but it has worked wonders for me. If I forget to take my vit. D for about 3 days, I get the extreme leg and hand pain again, and remember to take it, it begins to ease within an hour or two, and is gone the next morning. I recommended it to my dad and he noticed a difference almost immediately too.
I was very dismayed to find that I went back to the local Club (Sam’s), and they no longer offer 5k I.U. Vitamin D supplements, but have dropped to 2K. I’m looking for another store, but am pretty sad that they quit selling it. Also, I found the softgels to work for me, MUCH better than the tablets.
P.S. As A side note, there is vitamin D in some foods, but I have read that there was no *recorded* benefit, no matter the food intake, only with sun, or supplementation. I can’t eat a lot of dairy products anyway, so it’s sun or supplements for me, anyhow.
Thanks for sharing that info. Do you have a ballpark figure of how much it is to test for blood Vit. D levels?
I do a finger-stick blood draw at home, using a kit from ZRT Labs that costs about $70 with postage. If you go to Dr. Cannell’s site to order it, he gets a cut, which is a good thing because he’s probably doing more than anyone to sort through all the old and the more recent studies and then updating everyone on the results.
Here’s the link to his site page with the test: http://www.zrtlab.com/vitamindcouncil/
There’s also a ton of info on his site, including his specific advice to avoid getting your D3 in the form of cod liver oil. The vitamin A in the form of retinol in cod liver oil will frustrate the uptake of the D3, he says.
Someone said they take 10-20,000 per day. Unless you weigh 300-400 pounds or more, you’d better get tested a few times to make sure you’re not heading into the 150-200 ng/ml level that would constitute overdosing. We don’t excrete the excess vitamin D3, like we do with water soluble vitamins. It just builds up in the fat tissue and can get too high.
It should only cost $35-$50....
And here’s a site that links to several videos of presentations by the current crop of vitamin D3 researchers. If you’re really interested in learning more about the direction the research is taking, the videos will be helpful, though they are long.
>>It should only cost $35-$50....<<
If you can find the test at that price, please post a link. I called my regular doctor’s office and it was around $160 there. One thing you can do if you have insurance is request the vitamin D3 test at your annual physical. You should be able to get at least a couple of data points that way over a few years. The proper test for vitamin D3 is referred to as the 25-OH-D test, to differentiate it from the test for vitamin D2. So if you ask your doctor to run the test, be sure to specify the 25-OH-D test, or make sure you’re both talking D3, not D2.
I have found Vit D3 online at very reasonable prices...and take 2K with each meal, plus some extra in other vitamins I take....
Also, if you get tested make sure you get the correct test.
Thank you both, very much, for the information provided. I appreciate it.
I just wanted to ask where you’ve heard of Vitamin D overdosing? I’ve only heard of it in levels near the millions of IU. From everything I’ve read (from the Vitamin D Council, included) 50,000IU is acceptable each day. I’m not saying that you’re incorrect, because I have heard of problems with calcium for those who take extreme amounts (100k’s IU ranges, but not anything below several 100K), so I am just trying to get more information. I have looked up on the NIH and CDC websites, and not yet found any information on what exactly constitues a vitamin D overdose, but it is something that has been on my mind. I’ll look more into the blood level, I do want to get tested. Thank you again for all of your help.
One quote I found:
“The lack of adverse effects in clinical trials that used intake up to 1250 micrograms [50,000 IU] vitamin D per day and the lack of adverse effects at lower doses inspires a high level of confidence in the data from the strongly designed clinical trials that used 250 micrograms [10,000 IU] vitamin D per day, said the reviewers.
The researchers also note that for practically all the reported cases of vitamin D toxicity have involved doses that were in excess of those studied in the clinical trials. Newer clinical trial data are sufficient to show that vitamin D is not toxic at intakes much higher than previously considered unsafe, said the reviewers.”
-J.N. Hathcock, A. Shao, R. Vieth, R. Heaney. Risk assessment for vitamin D. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition; January 2007, Volume 85, Pages 6-18.
I get all my supplements from here...
Vitamin D - 5,000 IU
Oh.... they have been around since 1969
For the group...... having just gone through the excruciating passing of a kidney stone, I wondered what caused kidney stones.
Interestingly, excessive vitamin D is given as one of the causes.
Has any other D user experienced kidney stones?
Dr. Cannell published the following letter from a reader, along with his response, in an email I received 4/21/10. It should answer your question:
This is a periodic newsletter from the Vitamin D Council, a non-profit trying to end the epidemic of vitamin D deficiency. If you are not subscribed, you can do so on the Vitamin D Council’s website. If you want to unsubscribe, go to the end of this newsletter.
This newsletter is now copyrighted but you may reproduce it for non-economic reasons without prior permission as long as you properly attribute its source.
Dear Dr. Cannell:
I was taking a vitamin D3 liquid oil supplement 60,000 IUs/day regularly and 180,000 IUs/day fairly occasionally for about 8 months in ‘09 in an attempt to get over a chronic sinus infection and prevent cold/flu. Last November ‘09, I started having symptoms for irregular heartbeats, nervousness, insomnia, weight loss, difficulty concentrating, and muscle weakness. I met with my physician and had blood work done. My vitamin D3 level was 406 ng/mL and my calcium elevated and probably had been that high for several months. I stopped taking the supplement immediately. But my physician didn’t recommend anything else at the time except to recheck the blood levels in a few months. I am 46 and have been in excellent health all my life with no previous medical issues.
The symptoms have not gone away entirely. I was not aware of the potential toxic effects of D until a few weeks ago. I recently found out that vitamin D toxicity can cause hypercalcemia.
Is there anything more I can do now to reverse the effects of vitamin D toxicity and possible hypercalcemia that may have been present for several months last summer/fall? Should I have my kidney function and heart function checked? What can I do to reverse effects on my nervous system and brain now? What tests can I do to keep checking the levels or know if I did any permanent damage to these soft tissues?
Finally, my daughter (5 yrs. old at the time) was also taking about 20,000 IUs/day fairly regularly over the same period of time. She didn’t appear to have had any adverse symptoms but now I’m really concerned and scared she may have been toxic too. What tests should I ask to be done to check her for Vitamin D toxicity and hypercalcemia?
Dr. Cannell’s Response was:
Congratulations, you have indeed made yourself toxic by knowingly taking too much supplemental vitamin D, one of the first such cases I am aware of in the modern literature. Have your daughter’s 25(OH)D and serum calcium checked; she was also taking potentially toxic doses.
The treatment for you and your daughter to not take any vitamin D and both of you should stay out of the sun until your 25(OH)D levels return to normal. Drink 8 eight-ounce glasses of water a day and have your daughter drink four. You both should have a chemistry panel periodically to see if kidney function is normal and to check serum calcium although I doubt that your calcium is still elevated. I doubt you have permanently damaged any internal organs as most cases of toxicity, with 25(OH)D levels higher than yours, did not result in permanent damage to the kidneys or other internal organs.
Also, readers should be aware, if they are not already, that vitamin D does not prevent all viral respiratory infections. As we noted in correspondence to our first influenza paper, rhinoviruses, the most common cause of the common cold, are not seasonal; that is, they are just as common in the summer as in the winter, and they do not have a lipoprotein coat for antimicrobial peptides to destroy. Also, in a recent Japanese paper, influenza B was not prevented by vitamin D, only influenza A. Although many people get influenza symptoms and are worried enough to go to their doctors, and their doctors worried enough to get an influenza A test, only about 3% of the specimens submitted to CDC surveillance centers are positive for influenza A.
If you are already taking 5,000 IU a day and you get a cold, chances are that more vitamin D will not help much. No one should take large doses for more than a few days and then only if the infection is severe. Certainly the doses you took were toxic and it sounds as if you still suffered from viral respiratory infections.
>>I just wanted to ask where youve heard of Vitamin D overdosing?<<
My post above was a response to your question. 50,000 IU per day will put you in the category of David in the letter. You will get sick. The confusion possibly arises because doctors will often prescribe a megadose (50,000 IU doses) to be taken once a month to overcome a dangerously low vit D3 level.
The reason so little has been actively researched regarding vit D3 is that until recently the Food and Nutrition Board had set the Tolerable Upper Limit at 2,000 IU per day. This level is too low to get the research results suggested by the associative studies. That is, to do an actual experiment, researchers would have to put people on doses significantly larger than the government’s upper limit. Reputable researchers are reluctant to do that.
However, recently the Tolerable Upper Limit was doubled to 4,000 IU, so you’re going to start seeing some experiments (double blind, placebo controlled) being done, I would expect.
Dr. Cannell, and most researchers, recommend around 1,000 IU’s daily per 30 pounds of body weight, PLUS regular testing to see how you’re responding to that dosage when combined with your lifestyle, diet, etc. Thus, a 180 pound person should be taking around 6,000 IU to maintain a high enough D3 level to be effective. (Checked by testing.)
As for the level, the most commonsense suggestion I’ve heard for setting a minimum level is from the doctor (I forget his name) who says that it doesn’t pass to the baby in breast milk until the mother’s blood is over 50 ng/ml. He reasons that since it is highly beneficial to the developing fetus, and to the new borne baby, the minimum should be above that level. Most of the researchers in vit D3 are settling on a level somewhere between 60-80 ng/ml and none that I’m aware of are stating a level above 100 ng/ml. Above 200 ng/ml, you’re likely to start getting in serious trouble.
Note: I am not a doctor, and the above is just being passed along, possibly with some errors. Do your own research before doing any supplementing. Kidney and Liver specialists will tell you that a large percentage of their patients come to them with long lists of supplements they’ve been taking. A lot of this stuff just isn’t good for you, but we’ve gone the wrong direction for 40 years when it comes to vit D3, in my personal opinion.
Just one more in the the long list of products that are being down sized put at the same or higher price. Signs of the economic times.
>>Just one more in the the long list of products that are being down sized put at the same or higher price. Signs of the economic times.<<
I guess it must be fun to be cynical, even without knowing what the pricing of the two products are....
It’s also possible, if you’re interested in a rational explanation, that since the FNB just set the maximum recommended dose at 2,000 IU for an adult (up from 1,000) and the Tolerable Upper Limit at 4,000 IU (up from 2,000) that maybe the company thought offering a 2K pill instead of 5K made sense?
You have my sympathy. Kidney stones are considered the worst cause of pain by many, if not most, docs. For the general public, if you want to learn about medical problems, i.e. signs and symptoms, causes and treatments of the vast majority of diagnoses, I used to recommend without hesitation MedlinePlus. It's a service from the National Library of Medicine and the National Institute of Health, but now they are too smart by half. It's been redone completely. I entered kidney stones, aka nephrolithiasis, and they give 516 results. It's loaded with links.
You might need a medical dictionary if you're not a health professional. Here's their dictionary.
It took a little while scanning the first page to find "Kidney Stones in Adults." Click on "What causes kidney stones"? This is their entry minus images of some stones.
Doctors do not always know what causes a stone to form. While certain foods may promote stone formation in people who are susceptible, scientists do not believe that eating any specific food causes stones to form in people who are not susceptible.
A person with a family history of kidney stones may be more likely to develop stones. Urinary tract infections, kidney disorders such as cystic kidney diseases, and certain metabolic disorders such as hyperparathyroidism are also linked to stone formation.
In addition, more than 70 percent of people with a rare hereditary disease called renal tubular acidosis develop kidney stones.
Cystinuria and hyperoxaluria are two other rare, inherited metabolic disorders that often cause kidney stones. In cystinuria, too much of the amino acid cystine, which does not dissolve in urine, is voided, leading to the formation of stones made of cystine. In patients with hyperoxaluria, the body produces too much oxalate, a salt. When the urine contains more oxalate than can be dissolved, the crystals settle out and form stones.
Hypercalciuria is inherited, and it may be the cause of stones in more than half of patients. Calcium is absorbed from food in excess and is lost into the urine. This high level of calcium in the urine causes crystals of calcium oxalate or calcium phosphate to form in the kidneys or elsewhere in the urinary tract.
Other causes of kidney stones are hyperuricosuria, which is a disorder of uric acid metabolism; gout; excess intake of vitamin D; urinary tract infections; and blockage of the urinary tract. Certain diuretics, commonly called water pills, and calcium-based antacids may increase the risk of forming kidney stones by increasing the amount of calcium in the urine.
Calcium oxalate stones may also form in people who have chronic inflammation of the bowel or who have had an intestinal bypass operation, or ostomy surgery. As mentioned earlier, struvite stones can form in people who have had a urinary tract infection. People who take the protease inhibitor indinavir, a medicine used to treat HIV infection, may also be at increased risk of developing kidney stones.
It appears quite comprehensive.
If you don't like MedlinePlus, try the Mayo Clinic's Diseases and Conditions. Avoid any sites hawking any products. BTW, any sites whose URL ends with the suffix .edu as in education are teaching institutions. Normally, I don't hesitate to use or cite them.
Interestingly, excessive vitamin D is given as one of the causes.
Well you found one source. If you want to rule out excess vitamin D, then get the 25hydroxyvitamin D, aka 25(OH)D, test. However, the test can be problematic. I have read two docs who complained about its results varying too much. I don't know if it's dependent on the lab performing the test, or if it's dependent on the purity of reagents, water or what. But if it's result twice the upper limit of normal, then you probably have your diagnosis, hypervitaminosis D. I'd stop vitamin D for a month and get retested. Make sure the test is repeated at the same lab. If you're first result is hanging aroud the upper limit of normal, then it could still be hypervitaminosis D, and I would proceed as above.
Has any other D user experienced kidney stones?
It's already in the two public references, MedlinePlus and the Mayo Clinic. It can cause too much calcium in the blood, so it gets precipitated into stones.
I take 4000 IU Vit. D3 almost every day and drink milk. I also eat oysters once every week for the zinc. My calcium is a bit on the high side but still within the norm. Never had kidney stones, gall stones or kidney problems but then I drink a lot of water, up to six 10oz. glasses a day.
My sister does none of the above. She has had terrible problems with bladder infections, kidney and gall stones.
Draw your own conclusions.
curezone.com is a favorite website. This is what they say about kidney stones. http://www.earthclinic.com/CURES/kidney_stones4.html#RF_56608
30 year study.....sounds reliable
**modern lifestyle makes it difficult for anyone to get enough sunlight anyway.**
I agree. I just got outside and started walking again. Hopefully it will get me my Vitamin D and help me lose 60 or so pounds.
I thought we couldn’t advertise on FR
Well it can’t hurt! YOU GO! :)
Worse than a separated shoulder?
That sounds like trauma and orthopedic in nature. I'm talking frrom the standpoint of internal medicine.
Lol, I guess for us patients, pain is pain.
Thanks for the pings neverdem.
An additional complication in assessing vitamin D status is in the actual measurement of serum 25(OH)D concentrations. Considerable variability exists among the various assays available (the two most common methods being antibody based and liquid chromatography based) and among laboratories that conduct the analyses [1,7,8]. This means that compared with the actual concentration of 25(OH)D in a sample of blood serum, a falsely low or falsely high value may be obtained depending on the assay or laboratory used . A standard reference material for 25(OH)D became available in July 2009 that permits standardization of values across laboratories and may improve method-related variability [1,10].Health Risks from Excessive Vitamin D
Vitamin D toxicity can cause non-specific symptoms such as anorexia, weight loss, polyuria, and heart arrhythmias. More seriously, it can also raise blood levels of calcium which leads to vascular and tissue calcification, with subsequent damage to the heart, blood vessels, and kidneys . The use of supplements of both calcium (1,000 mg/day) and vitamin D (400 IU) by postmenopausal women was associated with a 17% increase in the risk of kidney stones over 7 years in the Women's Health Initiative . A serum 25(OH)D concentration consistently >500 nmol/L (>200 ng/mL) is considered to be potentially toxic .Interactions with Medications
Excessive sun exposure does not result in vitamin D toxicity because the sustained heat on the skin is thought to photodegrade previtamin D3 and vitamin D3 as it is formed . In addition, thermal activation of previtamin D3 in the skin gives rise to various non-vitamin D forms that limit formation of vitamin D3 itself. Some vitamin D3 is also converted to nonactive forms . Intakes of vitamin D from food that are high enough to cause toxicity are very unlikely. Toxicity is much more likely to occur from high intakes of dietary supplements containing vitamin D.
Long-term intakes above the UL increase the risk of adverse health effects  (Table 4). Most reports suggest a toxicity threshold for vitamin D of 10,000 to 40,000 IU/day and serum 25(OH)D levels of 500600 nmol/L (200240 ng/mL). While symptoms of toxicity are unlikely at daily intakes below 10,000 IU/day, the FNB pointed to emerging science from national survey data, observational studies, and clinical trials suggesting that even lower vitamin D intakes and serum 25(OH)D levels might have adverse health effects over time. The FNB concluded that serum 25(OH)D levels above approximately 125150 nmol/L (5060 ng/mL) should be avoided, as even lower serum levels (approximately 75120 nmol/L or 3048 ng/mL) are associated with increases in all-cause mortality, greater risk of cancer at some sites like the pancreas, greater risk of cardiovascular events, and more falls and fractures among the elderly. The FNB committee cited research which found that vitamin D intakes of 5,000 IU/day achieved serum 25(OH)D concentrations between 100150 nmol/L (4060 ng/mL), but no greater. Applying an uncertainty factor of 20% to this intake value gave a UL of 4,000 IU which the FNB applied to children aged 9 and older, with corresponding lower amounts for younger children.
Vitamin D supplements have the potential to interact with several types of medications. A few examples are provided below. Individuals taking these medications on a regular basis should discuss vitamin D intakes with their healthcare providers.FNB means Food and Nutrition Board.
Corticosteroid medications such as prednisone, often prescribed to reduce inflammation, can reduce calcium absorption [66,67,68] and impair vitamin D metabolism. These effects can further contribute to the loss of bone and the development of osteoporosis associated with their long-term use [67,68].
Both the weight-loss drug orlistat (brand names Xenical® and alliTM) and the cholesterol-lowering drug cholestyramine (brand names Questran®, LoCholest®, and Prevalite®) can reduce the absorption of vitamin D and other fat-soluble vitamins [69,70]. Both phenobarbital and phenytoin (brand name Dilantin®), used to prevent and control epileptic seizures, increase the hepatic metabolism of vitamin D to inactive compounds and reduce calcium absorption .
The interaction with other drugs here is especially interesting.
Dr. John Cannell, vitamindcouncil.org, recommends 125-200 nmol/L. The FNB calls that amount too high.
The FNB recommendation, if it is that, of 4,000IU daily would certainly be much more vitamin D than most people have traditionally gotten.
don’t you have your numbers mixed up? Cannell recommends 4000iu, and the FNB 125-200 nmol/L?????
I don’t work for the company. I just get my supplements from them and the reason I posted the company’s “about us” link is because I wanted the person to know that it was an established company and not some fly by night supplement company.
Cannell recommends 5,000IU.
From post #42: "The FNB concluded that serum 25(OH)D levels above approximately 125150 nmol/L (5060 ng/mL) should be avoided, as even lower serum levels (approximately 75120 nmol/L or 3048 ng/mL) are associated with increases in all-cause mortality, greater risk of cancer at some sites like the pancreas, greater risk of cardiovascular events, and more falls and fractures among the elderly."
Thanks for the ping/post. Very interesting. Health/life BUMP!
I tested at 20 and my doctor put me on 50,000 units 3x a week for 2 months. Even then, I went up to about 25, so I'm still on it until I get to the high 30's. The prescription is cheap, you might want to talk to your doctor about it.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.