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Category: Science

Vitamin D Supplements

Vitamin D and Parkinson’s Disease

For those of you who have read Grain Brain, you will recall that one of the fundamentally important nutritional supplements I recommend is Vitamin D3.

For years we have been schooled as to the importance of vitamin D in the process of building strong and healthy bones. Indeed, that part of the story is true. But the story becomes much more interesting as we recognize the expansive role of vitamin D in human health.

Vitamin D is actually not even a vitamin by definition. Vitamins are health-necessary chemicals not synthesized in the body which must be supplied from exogenous sources. So vitamin D, which the body readily synthesizes when it is exposed to sunlight, does not fulfill the definition of being a vitamin. In fact, vitamin D is a steroid hormone quite similar in structure to other hormones like estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. This should be expected since all of these steroid hormones, including vitamin D, are all made from the same starting chemical, good old cholesterol. More on that later.

We now understand that vitamin D stimulates more than 900 genes in human physiology, most of which reside in the brain. These genes code for a variety of activities like reducing inflammation, strengthening nerve cells, and even helping the brain rid itself of viruses.

So it’s no wonder that there is a dramatically decreased incidence of a degenerative disease like Parkinson’s (67% lower risk) in people with the highest level of vitamin D.

This study was published in Archives of Neurology, a specialty journal published by our friends at the American Medical Association and it bears our attention.

People often ask me what I recommend as the appropriate dosage of vitamin D for an adult and my response is that there is no specific recommendation that works for all. You have to measure the blood level of vitamin D and adjust the dosage to optimize the level. With my patients I target a level of around 79-80 nanograms per milliliter. This may require 5000 IU daily, more, or even less.

One final note. We frequently find dramatically low levels of vitamin D in individuals who are gluten sensitive, often along with very low levels of vitamin B12. Now that you know that vitamin D is made from cholesterol, the association of lower vitamin D status with the use of statin cholesterol lowering medications makes sense.

For more information, order your copy of Grain Brain today and join Dr. Perlmutter’s email list.

  • ri

    i appreciate my little vitamin D3 capsules so much more now but they have to be taken with fat to be absorbed properly because they are fat soluble or you can get the supplements in the gel form

  • My Vitamin D OH-25 blood test comes in at an average (past 2 years) of 15 pg/ml. My Vitamin B12 ranges between 700 to 900. My cholesterol averages just over 200. My A1C comes in at 4.5%. My glucose averages just a hair above 100 mg/dL.

    Not that I’m expecting a diagnosis, but is the low Vitamin D something that may indicate something else is not right? I haven’t taken a gluten sensitivity test but plan on it. Just being curious if there’s something I should know now.

    • David Perlmutter

      Hi David,

      The labs you presented all look fine but I would agree that the D level is suboptimal. Generally, in our patients this would just be a call for higher supplementation.

  • Danna Seevers

    Dr. Perlmutter, do you recommend a particular form (liquid vs capsule, vs spray) and brand of vitamin D? Which form is most bioavailable? Our family of 7 just got our blood tested today and I am eager to get started. I have 5 children and my youngest 3 cannot yet swallow a pill so they need either gummies (usually loaded with sugar) or liquid drops.

    • David Perlmutter

      I generally prefer liquid, encapsulated. Avoid D in soy oil. Opt for D in MCT oil
      David Perlmutter, MD

      • maria

        Dr. Perlmutter, my integrative physician recommended a brand of Vit D that also contains K2 and glycerine. The glycerine tastes sweet. Is this a concern in terms of raising blood sugar levels? I tried to find the info on the internet and it seemed glycerine was not a concern, but what is your opinion?

      • HeartSong

        Dr. P., years ago for about 15 years, I used a handcream with lanolin daily (lanolin is extracted from sheep’s wool). I also had a persistent rash on my fingers during those years. I stopped using handcream with lanolin because they stopped making my favorite brand. Surprisingly, the rash dissappeared as soon as I stopped using the handcream with lanolin, so I did some research on lanolin and found that some people have an allergic reaction to it. Years later, my doctor prescribed 2000iu vitamin D daily for me. I got a 2000iu D3 capsule from the healthfood store. Within days of starting to take it, that old finger rash came back that I hadn’t had for years. I became suspicious and called the manufacturer to ask the source of their D3. It was extracted from non other than lanolin! I called a few other manufacturers of high dosage D3, and theirs were also sourced from lanolin. I finally found a D3 from fish liver oil (Solaray), but it only comes in 400iu capsules, so I take 5 of them a day. (Unfortunately, it is in a base of soybean oil.) My questions are: 1) what is the best source of D3 – fish liver oil, lanolin, or something else? 2) Where do I find D3 not sourced from lanolin and in MCT? Thank you.

  • Sherri Frost

    Sherri Frost

    • Sherri Frost

      Dr. Perlmutter – I have read your book – it is certainly the most provocative “health” book that I’ve read since it turned my low-fat diet on its head. I’m re-reading it for a second time and have recommended your book to everyone I know. Today, I read about a study at UC Davis which is contrary to the information that you present – that higher cholesterol and esp high LDL is associated with higher incidence of Alzheimer’s. As dimentia runs in my family (mom, grandma and great-grandma), I want to take every step possible to avoid Alzheimer’s (grandma and great grandma both died of Alzheimers but we’ve completely reversed mom’s dementia by placing her on a gluten-free diet!).

      • David Perlmutter

        I’m not aware of this study, but it is certainly good to read information on both sides of the issue so that you can stay well-informed.

  • Lori

    One important thing to think about is that higher levels of D3 also increase serum calcium. Vitamin K2 is essential for calcium deposition. Without it, we run the risk of soft tissue calcification, like arteries, brain, kidneys, breast etc. This particular nutrient is not even on the radar yet, so to speak, and I suspect there are widespread deficiencies just like vit D. Interestingly, K2 is carried through cholesterol as well, and the brain in particular is home to many K dependent proteins. I believe that we’ve so screwed up this whole cholesterol thing by our emphasis on a low fat, high grain diet that Americans are nutritionally starving.

    • floatingbones

      Excellent advice. This is something I recently stumbled upon. Jimmy Moore had an interview with Dr. Kate Rhéaume-Bleue in July of 2013: http://livinlavidalowcarb.com/blog/the-llvlc-show-episode-703-dr-kate-rheaume-bleue-shines-light-on-vitamin-k2-and-calcium-paradox/19058 . My most interesting take-away: an easy way to get abundant K2 in our diet is from grass-fed beef. Vitamin K2 both helps to put calcium where it’s needed (bones, teeth) and keep it away from places where it’s not needed (soft tissues). Fascinating stuff!

      • Lori

        Thanks for posting this! Looking forward to listening!

    • maria

      It’s easy to get off-balance, even when you know about K2. It’s happened to me – doctors telling me the calcium in my blood is too high due to a high level of Vit. D. I was taking K2 but perhaps not enough. Mainstream doctors will only tell you to lower the Vit D, which I have done, at least temporarily. Regular doctors do not know about the K2 connection at all. At least not mine. Dr. Perlmutter, how much K2 do you recommend with each IU of Vit D?

      • nomoregrain

        Ive read also on http://www.drgundry.com heart surgeon, that we don’t need calcium supplements for our bones if intaking a non carb high good fat and greens diet. But is ok to take calcium, just take it with K2. I don’t take calcium anymore and my bone density went up i believe in conjunction and timing with not eating grains n sugar for the last 4 years. Thoughts?

  • Gus

    Dr. Perlmutter, is there any association between low levels of Vit D and vertigo? Or, is this another of those diseases linked to non-ciliac gluten sensitivity?

  • Patti Ann Myers-Hershey

    My last vitamin D level came back at 4. I take 100,000 units a day, my body just will not absorb it or any other fat soluble vitamin (A, included) This thanks to the gastric bypass surgery I had in 1995. I’m not fat, but instead I am disabled due to chronic pain, tremors, fatigue, bone pain, loss of eyesight, chronic kidney failure and frequent bouts of sepsis. I also have a blood disorder that has caused me to have 2 TIA’s and 2 DVT’s. Not sure if this is also related to the vitamin D level? If I had it to do over again, I would be fat, happy, and a nurse again. Advice to people ever thinking of having this surgery.

  • Jennifer McFadden

    Our 6 year old son has a large benign unicameral bone cyst inside the top of his femur bone. Fibrous Dysplasia is a possibility. He’s had 2 operations this year with bone matrix, curettage, grafting, etc. I asked the doctor to run his Vitamin D & it was 26. We live in northern MN (not much sun). The doctor prescribed 2,000 IU of vitamin D for 6 weeks, followed by 8 weeks of 1,000 IU, then a recheck of his Vitamin D levels. Here’s my question – Is this enough Vitamin D for him (48 pounds)? Should he be taking other supplements with this such as calcium, magnesium, Vitamin K? And, if so what would ideal amounts of these additional bone building vitamins would be appropriate for a 6 year old? Thank You!

  • TC

    Received your book from my husband for Christmas. My 82 year old mother has been on Crestor for years and cannot remember her cholesterol prior to starting. It is now 135. She is active, not overweight, and has healthy eating habits. She has been having severe leg aches for weeks and always has stomach issues. I believe she needs to get off the Crestor and then work on what is troubling her stomach in regards to what you address in your book. Seems Crestor is a good place to start.

  • Andy

    Dr Perimutter, I love your book and have started to put many of your recommendations into practise e.g. removed/decreased gluten, increased DHA, turmeric and Vit D intake. However, I am a bit concerned about increasing Vit D by so much without any acknowledgement/increase to Vit K2 (please see the post by Lori and the talk by Dr Kate Rheaume-Bleue – http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/12/16/vitamin-k2.aspx). What are your views on this?

  • Chevelta

    Hi Dr. Perlmutter. My name is Chevelta. I received your Grain Brain book for Christmas 2013. I love the book and it has been an answer and explanation for many of the symptoms I’ve been experiencing. I am 44 years old woman. I will begin my fast tomorrow with intentions to start the new way of eating on Monday. I got my lab work done, but my doctor said she could not order the Cyrex assay 3 gluten sensitivity test (lab unable to do). She ordered a Celiac panel instead. I am planning to transition my entire family on the gluten free, low carb, high fat diet. Want to know if the dosages for the supplements you gave pertain to children also (including the probiotics). I have a 20 yr old, 17 year old, and 12 year old. Additionally, my husband and I are wondering if we still need to take a regular multivitamin in addition to the supplements you recommend?

  • Al

    I have Parkinson’s and naturally am taking sinemet 4 times a day – Guess I am one of the lucky? ones that get a bad reaction to a high protein meal. I am sure I am not the only one with this problem. Would like to know how to follow your recommended diet and not get the reaction to the protein. I am 73 and was diagnosed with Parkinson’s 4 years ago

    • nomoregrain

      I know a little bit about a lot of thinks but if it were me and maybe you have already done this. Have you had your APOe genetic test done? Do you know if you are 4/4 or 3/4 or 3/3? If you are 4/4 or 3/4 for sure you should stay far away from all animal fat but beef up ( so to speak) on the good fats like white fish and shell fish (not salmon too high in the wrong kind of fat?) and eat lots of Extra Virgin olive oil and Coconut oil ( love a scoop of it in a spoon). And just assume you are gluten sensitive and eat the Grain Brain way. Lots of omega 3 eggs good too! I am not a doctor but read a lot and my husband is APOe 3/4 and his heart surgeon http://www.drgundry.com said NO animal fat. That includes dairy, yogurt, cheese for him. He sneaks a little once in a while. Thoughts?

  • Pleea

    I just read ‘Grain Brain’ and must thank Dr. P for the wonderful work he has done and for putting all that he has learned into a book to inform the public. I thank you so much, Dr. Perlmutter–I have completely restructured my diet, making it gluten & sugar free while including healthy fats and proteins.

    • David Perlmutter

      Thanks you so much for reading Pleea. Wishing you good health.

  • Jim Broom

    As is often the case, there are conflicting views on Vitamin D supplementation. This link will take you to an article by a person representing himself as a scientist and quoting scientific studies that come to the conclusion that Vit D supplementation is valueless. I would be grateful for your comments as I am a newbie at following your gluten free, low carb high fat diet and need to try to understand the system as best as possible.

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  • Pingback: Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) in Parkinson’s | Journey with Parkinson's()

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  • coleman sanchez

    (Must read)
    I am 64 years of age and was diagnosed with Parkinson’s 3 years ago. I experienced shakiness and general reduction of control and tremor on my left hand. I took pramipexole dihydrochloride three times daily for 7 months. In 2016 I started on a herbal formula i purchased from NewLife Herbal Clinic, i read alot of positive reviews about their successful Parkinson’s disease herbal treatment. Merely 3 weeks of the PD herbal formula usage my left hand tremor seized followed by other symptoms, i used the Parkinsons disease herbal formula for 8 weeks all my symptoms were reversed. (visit www. newlifeherbalclinic. weebly. com or email newlifeherbalclinic@ gmail. com). Final breakthrough ffor all suffering from Parkinsons disease… Coleman Sanchez

  • Joell kurtis

    I am from Nevada, USA.. I started on NewLife Clinic Parkinsons Disease Herbal formula treatment in September 2016, i read alot of positive reviews on their success rate treating Parkinsons disease through their PD Herbal formula and i immediately started on the treatment. Just 11 weeks into the Herbal formula treatment I had great improvements with speech and coordination, my hand tremors seized and the stiffed, rigid muscle had succumbed. I am unbelievably back on my feet again, this is a breakthrough for all Parkinsons sufferers, visit NewLife Herbal Clinic offficial website ww w. newlifeherbalclinic. com or email info @ newlifeherbalclinic. com.

    Joel Kurtis
    Nevada, USA

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