Vitamin E and vitamin C intake may lower risk of Parkinson's disease: Study
Sweden: High dietary intake of vitamin C and vitamin E lowers the risk of Parkinson's disease, finds a recent study in the journal Neurology.
Vitamins C and E are antioxidants. Antioxidants are micronutrients that reduce or prevent cell damage and inflammation. Foods like oranges, strawberries, broccoli and Brussels sprouts contain vitamin C. Vitamin E can be found in spinach, collard greens, pumpkin and in nuts like almonds and peanuts.
Parkinson's disease is a movement disorder that can affect speech, walking and balance due to a gradual reduction of a chemical in the brain called dopamine. Antioxidants may help counteract unstable molecules and the resulting oxidative stress that can lead to dopamine loss.
Essi Hantikainen, University of Milano-Bicocca in Milan, Italy, and colleagues aimed to determine whether high baseline dietary antioxidants and total non-enzymatic antioxidant capacity (NEAC) is associated with a lower risk of Parkinson disease in men and women, we prospectively studied 43,865 men and women from a large Swedish cohort.
For the study, researchers followed 41,058 adults in Sweden for an average of 18 years. None had Parkinson's at the start of the study. Every participant completed a questionnaire at the start of the study about their medical history and lifestyle factors like diet and exercise, including height, weight and physical activity. Researchers calculated body mass index for each participant and activity levels.
Participants were asked to report how often they consumed various foods and beverages during the past year, including portion sizes. Vitamin and mineral supplements were not considered due to inadequate information on brands, dosing and how often supplements were taken. For vitamin consumption, participants were divided into three equal groups: those with the highest intake, those with moderate intake and those with the lowest intake.
Key findings of the study include:
- 465 people were diagnosed with Parkinson's disease.
- For vitamin C, researchers found a rate of 64 cases of Parkinson's disease per 100,000 person-years in the group that consumed the highest amounts compared to a rate of 132 cases in the group that consumed the lowest amounts.
- Person-years take into account both the number of people in the study and the amount of time each person spends in the study. After adjusting for factors like age, sex, body mass index and physical activity, people in the highest consumption group had a 32% lower risk of Parkinson's disease than those in the lowest group.
- For vitamin E researchers found a rate of 67 cases of Parkinson's disease per 100,000 person-years in the group that consumed the highest amounts compared to a rate of 110 cases in the group that consumed the lowest amounts.
- After adjusting for the same factors, people in the highest consumption group had a 32% lower risk of Parkinson's disease than those in the lowest group.
- No association was found with estimated intake of dietary beta-carotene or NEAC.
"Improving diet is a known way to improve overall health, but the research on exactly how diet affects a person's risk of Parkinson's disease has been somewhat mixed," said Hantikainen. "Our large study found that vitamin C and vitamin E were each linked to a 32% lower risk of Parkinson's disease, and we found the association may be even stronger when intake of both vitamin C and E is high."
"The possibility of being able to reduce the risk of Parkinson's disease simply with the foods we eat is encouraging news," said Hantikainen. "And while increasing the amounts of healthy foods in our diet is beneficial, it is important to note that excess intake of some vitamins may be harmful. For example, too much vitamin E from supplements has been linked in other studies to a higher risk of certain cancers or stroke. More research is needed to investigate the exact amounts of vitamins C and E that may be most beneficial for reducing the risk of Parkinson's."
"Dietary antioxidants and the risk of Parkinson Disease: The Swedish National March Cohort," is published in the journal Neurology.