Is it True that Vitamin D is Protective Against Parkinson’s Disease?

Several anecdotal reports suggest that vitamin D is protective against Parkinson’s disease. Is it true? And what does the research say?

Let’s find out in this article.

Is it true that vitamin D is protective against Parkinson's disease?

Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative condition that affects millions of people worldwide. The typical symptoms include tremors, rigidity, and difficulty with movement. These symptoms develop when there is a progressive loss of dopamine-producing cells in the brain. Dopamine is a crucial neurotransmitter that is responsible for controlled body movements.

While the exact cause of Parkinson’s disease is still not fully understood, researchers are looking at different environmental factors that may contribute to its development. They have also been exploring the imbalance of various dietary factors that may increase its risk. One such factor that has gained immense attention is vitamin D deficiency.

Vitamin D is a vital nutrient that plays a crucial role in maintaining bone health. It also supports the proper functioning of the immune system. It’s unique in a way that it can be synthesized by the body when the skin is exposed to sunlight. Like other vitamins, it can be obtained from dietary sources such as fatty fish, fortified dairy products, and supplements.

Vitamin D deficiency and the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease

Several studies have examined the relationship between vitamin D levels and the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. One large-scale study published in the Journal Archives of Neurology analyzed data from more than 3,000 individuals and found that those with lower levels of vitamin D had a significantly higher risk of developing Parkinson’s disease than those with sufficient levels.

Similarly, a meta-analysis that pooled data from multiple studies reported a consistent association between vitamin D deficiency and an increased risk of Parkinson’s disease. Considering the results from these and other similar studies suggest the possibility of using vitamin D deficiency as a potential biomarker for evaluating the risk of Parkinson’s disease.

How does vitamin D deficiency potentially contribute to the development of Parkinson’s disease?

Although the exact mechanisms are not fully understood, researchers have proposed several hypotheses. Here’re the two main ones:

1. Vitamin D acts as a neuroprotective agent

Vitamin D has been shown to act as a neuroprotective agent. Numerous studies have reported that it helps to prevent or slow down the degeneration of neurons, including dopamine-producing neurons in the brain.

 A study published in the Journal of eNeurologicalSci explored the impact of vitamin D on the protection of neurons in the brain. The researchers of the study conducted a series of experiments using primary neuronal cortical culture. They found that vitamin D is a powerful shield for neurons, safeguarding them from various forms of damage. They suggested that it does so by reducing oxidative stress, inflammation, and neuronal apoptosis (programmed cell death). Furthermore, they also found that vitamin D promotes the production and release of neurotrophic factors, which are essential for the survival and growth of neurons.

The neuroprotective property of vitamin D has also been highlighted in dopaminergic neurons of animal brains. In a study that appeared in the Journal of Neuroinflammation, researchers investigated the effects of vitamin D on protecting against neurotoxicity caused by a compound called 6-hydroxydopamine, which destroys the dopaminergic neurons similar to Parkinson’s disease. Their findings revealed that vitamin D plays a beneficial role in reducing the damaging effects of neurotoxicity in rat brains, potentially protecting dopaminergic neurons from harm.

Similarly, in another study published in the Journal of Neuroscience Research, scientists examined the impact of vitamin D on cultured dopaminergic neurons when exposed to combined toxicity from two compounds, namely l-buthionine sulfoximine and 1-methyl-4-phenylpyridine. Their results suggested that vitamin D exerted a protective effect on the dopaminergic neurons, potentially shielding them from the harmful effects of the toxic compounds.

2. Vitamin D acts as a mediator of dopaminergic neurons development and maintains the balance of neurotransmitters

A recently published study provides evidence of vitamin D’s role as a mediator of dopaminergic development. The researchers of the study examined the growth of dopaminergic neurons or dopamine-like cells in the presence and absence of vitamin D3 in cell culture conditions. They found that vitamin D treatment accelerates the growth and branching of developing neurons. They also observed a significant increase in dopamine synthesis in those neurons.

Furthermore, vitamin D receptors are present in various brain regions, including those involved in motor control, which are affected in Parkinson’s disease. Adequate levels of vitamin D may be necessary for these receptors to function optimally and maintain the proper balance of neurotransmitters, including dopamine. Vitamin D deficiency could disrupt this delicate balance and contribute to the development of Parkinson’s disease.


Vitamin D is not just a bone-strengthening vitamin; it’s also a remarkable protector of our brain cells. Through its ability to combat oxidative stress, reduce inflammation, regulate neuronal apoptosis, and nurture neuronal growth, vitamin D may protect from developing Parkinson’s disease.

Disclaimer: The information shared here should not be taken as medical advice. The opinions presented here are not intended to treat any health conditions. For your specific medical problem, consult with your healthcare provider.

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