Like Alzheimer’s disease, there’s not much the mainstream can do to effectively treat Parkinson’s disease – it’s more a case of managing and alleviating the symptoms than actually putting a lid on it.
While some of the mainstream’s therapies are successful in treating the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, here at the Daily Health our position has always been that ‘prevention is better than cure’, which is why we’re always keeping a close eye out for research that helps deepen our understanding of the disease and the best ways of preventing and fighting it.
Getting to the bottom of the problem
Approximately 120,000 people in the UK currently suffer from Parkinson’s disease, and it is estimated that by the year 2050 around four million people in Europe will have the disease.
Parkinson’s is a progressive neurological condition, which occurs when nerve cells are lost in a part of the brain called the substantia nigra. The main symptoms are tremors (shaking), rigidity and slowness of movement. These symptoms often start on one side of the body and then, over a period of time, progressively affect the entire body.
In a recent study, published in the British Journal of Nutrition, researchers conducted a hospital-based, case-control study involving 249 people with Parkinson’s disease and 368 people without a neurodegenerative condition.
The participants’ intake levels of B vitamins were assessed and the results showed no link between the development of Parkinson’s disease and blood levels of folate, vitamin B12 and riboflavin.
However, the researchers found that a low intake of vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) was linked to a substantially increased risk of developing the disease, independent of other factors.
This is not the first study to find a link between vitamin B6 deficiency and an increased risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. In a 2006 study, involving 5,289 people over the age of 55, researchers from the Erasmus Medical Centre in Rotterdam found that people who had an average daily vitamin B6 intake of 230.9 micrograms or more lowered their risk of developing Parkinson’s disease by 54 per cent, compared to those who had an average daily intake lower than 185.1 micrograms.
Neither of these two studies proves that low vitamin B6 levels are the cause of Parkinson’s disease. However, their results are a strong indication that additional research should focus on whether increased levels of vitamin B6 may reduce the risk of developing the disease.
The link between vitamin B6 intake and Parkinson’s disease is believed to be related to homocysteine – an amino acid that’s potentially toxic to brain cells. Past research has shown that vitamin B6 is able to lower homocysteine levels.
Vitamin B6 is found in many foods including fish, offal, pork, eggs, yeast extract, brown rice, soya beans, oats, wholegrains, peanuts, walnuts, avocado and bananas. Alternatively, you can take a daily supplement of 50mg.
As always, before adding a new supplement to your daily regimen, it’s important to speak to your doctor or alternative health practitioner to find out what the correct dosage will be for you.
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Neurology, Vol. 67, pp. 315-318