The Use of Supplements in Parkinson’s Disease

Can they help manage Parkinson’s symptoms? What does the research say?
Let’s find out here.

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurological disorder that affects movement. It occurs due to the loss of a specific group of cells known as dopaminergic neurons. These cells produce dopamine, a neurotransmitter that controls brain movement functions.

When dopaminergic cells die in the brain, it leads to issues like tremors, stiffness, and balance problems. Additionally, other symptoms may develop over time.

While there is no cure for Parkinson’s, medications and physical therapies are available to help manage symptoms and slow down its progression.

Now, let’s explore whether supplements, similar to vitamins and other substances, can benefit individuals with Parkinson’s.

There’s been considerable discussion about various supplements, but we’ll focus on four that have gained attention in research studies.

1. Vitamins B

This class of vitamins has a crucial role in preserving overall health and well-being. Their deficiencies have been linked to several brain conditions. Especially, the B6 and B12 vitamins have been in the research spotlight when it comes to Parkinson’s. Some studies suggest they might help with the symptoms, but we need more research to be sure.

Vitamin B6, also known as pyridoxine, is a B-complex vitamin that is required for dopamine production in the brain. A recent study published in the Journal of Neurological Sciences reported that people with Parkinson’s disease are at risk of vitamin B6 and B12 deficiencies. In this study, supplementation of B6, along with B12, relieves the neuropathy symptoms, which are often associated with falls.  

Summary: Dietary vitamin B6 and B12 supplementation may be beneficial, as they may help with Parkinson’s symptoms. However, more research is needed to confirm their effectiveness in managing the condition.

2. Vitamin E

Vitamin E has antioxidant properties and provides numerous health benefits.

Animal studies show that vitamin E might protect against Parkinson’s. In these studies, animal brains were forced to show Parkinson’s like changes upon exposure to specific neurotoxins. These abnormal changes were highly reduced when the brains were pretreated with vitamin E.

There are few clinical studies conducted in regard to vitamin E supplementation in Parkinson’s patients. One large community-based study showed that 10 mg/day of vitamin E intake may reduce the occurrence of Parkinson’s disease. Another study suggests that long-term usage of vitamin E may delay the use of levodopa in Parkinson’s patients.

Summary: Vitamin E, with its antioxidant properties, could potentially protect against Parkinson’s disease and reduce the risk of developing it. Long-term use may even delay the need for specific Parkinson’s medications.

3. Coenzyme Q10

Coenzyme Q10, also known as CoQ10, is a naturally occurring molecule in the body that is involved in the production of energy in cells. This molecule has a strong antioxidant activity and has been shown to have neuroprotective function.

Its neuroprotective function has also been studied in relation to Parkinson’s disease. A study published in Nature has reported it as an effective strategy to prevent neurodegeneration in Parkinson’s disease. In this study, researchers treated the animals with a toxin that caused Parkinson’s-like changes in their brains. A few weeks after the treatment, they found a massive loss of dopamine cells in their brains. However, such a loss was prevented when animals were given CoQ10. They further found that the CoQ10 was much more effective when it was delivered through direct brain infusion than those of orally administered.

A recently published systematic review reported that Parkinson’s patients have decreased CoQ10 levels in different parts of their brains. And therefore, it could have a potential therapeutic role in Parkinson’s disease. However, such therapeutic effects did not cause improvement in patients in their early phase of the disease.

Summary: Coenzyme Q10 shows promise in preventing neurodegeneration in Parkinson’s disease. While oral supplementation is an option, more research is required to understand its clinical benefits fully.

4. Vitamin D

In recent years, there has been some interest in exploring the potential therapeutic effects of vitamin D in Parkinson’s disease. It’s a vitamin that helps keep our bones strong and our immune system working right.

Although the exact mechanisms by which vitamin D may affect Parkinson’s disease are not fully understood, several studies have suggested that it may have neuroprotective effects and may help to reduce the progression of the disease. For example, a study published in the Journal of Neuroscience Research reported that vitamin D is a powerful shield for dopamine neurons, safeguarding them from various forms of damage.

Similar results were observed in another study that appeared in the Journal of Neuroinflammation. In this study, vitamin D was found to be effective in reducing the damaging effects of neurotoxicity in rat brains, potentially protecting dopaminergic neurons from harm.

Summary: While results from animal studies are encouraging, larger and well-controlled clinical trials are needed to determine the safety and efficacy of vitamin D in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease.

The Takeaway

Supplements aren’t a magic fix for Parkinson’s, and they shouldn’t be the main treatment option. They can be like a little extra help for some people with Parkinson’s, but they need to be used carefully. Some supplements can mess with the drugs for Parkinson’s and make them less effective.

So, if you or someone you know has Parkinson’s and is considering taking supplements, discuss it with a doctor first. Your doctor can help figure out if it’s a good idea and what kind and how much might be right for you.

In the end, managing Parkinson’s is a unique journey for everyone, and finding the best mix of treatments is key to making life a bit easier.

Related article: Diet for Parkinson’s Patients – What to Eat and When?

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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