More research links antioxidants and Parkinson’s

Higher intake of vitamin E was associated with a 55 percent reduced risk of Parkinson's disease in a recent study.

A new study provides more evidence linking antioxidant levels and Parkinson’s disease. About 1 million Americans currently have the neurodegenerative disease—more than the combined number of people diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy and Lou Gehrig's disease, according to the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation.

Highly reactive free radicals appear to play an important role in the nerve damage that occurs in people with the disease. Antioxidants—such as vitamins A, C and E, beta-carotene and other carotenoids—are nutrients that prevent free radicals from injuring cells. Several studies have looked at the effects of dietary antioxidants on the risk of Parkinson’s disease. The latest, a Japanese case control study, found that a high intake of vitamin E and beta-carotene was associated with a 55 percent and 44 percent reduced risk of Parkinson’s, respectively.

For the study, the researchers surveyed 249 patients during the first six years of Parkinson disease and compared their dietary data with those from 368 control subjects who didn’t have the disease. The results were published in the European Journal of Neurology.

Other studies have suggested a link between vitamin C intake and the prevalence of Parkinson’s, but researchers didn’t find evidence to support that with this study. They also found no link between Parkinson’s and alpha-carotene, crytoxanthin, green or yellow vegetables, or fruits.

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