Since March 2020, you’ve probably been thinking about your health more than ever before, thanks to the COVID pandemic. But now that an increasing number of people are being vaccinated against the virus, your singular health focus can start to shift toward all the screenings and doctor’s appointments you may have missed in the past year. Additionally, with newfound gratitude and a fresh perspective on what it means to have your health after a year like this, you might be looking for preventative measures to protect yourself. And while you likely know what you can do to reduce your risk of common conditions like heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, there are other diseases that you can avoid by taking certain steps now. Take, for example, Parkinson’s disease, which an estimated one million people in the U.S. have been diagnosed with, according to the Parkinson’s Foundation. The chronic and progressive disorder that affects the nerve cells in the brain might seem like something you have no control over, but a new study has found that two vitamins are linked to a reduced risk of Parkinson’s disease. Read on to find out what they are, and for the kind of vitamin to avoid, check out This Is the One Vitamin You Should Never Take, Doctors Say.
A new study found that vitamin C and vitamin E could successfully reduce the risk of Parkinson’s disease.
The new research—published on Jan. 6, 2021 in the journal Neurology—was conducted with 41,058 adults, a mix of men and women ranging in age from 18 to 94 years old, who were studied for an average of 17.6 years. None of the participants were previously diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. The participants were divided into three vitamin consumption groups for the study, those with the highest intake, those with moderate intake, and those with the lowest intake. Across the nearly 18-year timespan of the research, 465 people—or 1.1 percent of participants—were diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.
After looking at the results, the researchers concluded that vitamin C and vitamin E can reduce your risk of Parkinson’s disease. “Our large study found that vitamin C and vitamin E were each linked to a 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,” Essi Hantikainen, PhD, of one of the co-authors of the study, said in a statement.
And for more vitamin news you need to know, check out If You Take Too Much of This Vitamin, It Could Be Toxic, Experts Say.
A higher consumption of vitamin C was linked to a 32 percent reduced risk of Parkinson’s.
Taking into consideration the participants’ age, sex, body mass index, and physical activity, the researchers found that those in the highest vitamin intake group had a 32 percent reduced risk of Parkinson’s compared to the lowest intake group.
“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,” the authors said in a statement, noting that “person-years take into account both the number of people in the study and the amount of time each person spends in the study.”
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that is normally found in fruits and vegetables, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The vitamin—which can be consumed through oranges, grapefruits, broccoli, and tomatoes—is a water-soluble nutrient that “helps protect cells from the damage caused by free radicals.” It helps your body produce of collagen, strengthens your immune system, and boosts your body’s absorption of iron.
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A higher consumption of vitamin E also reduced patients’ risk of Parkinson’s by 32 percent.
The study’s results showed a higher intake of vitamin E and vitamin C yielded very similar results. “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,” the study authors stated. “After adjusting for the same factors, people in the highest consumption group had a 32 percent lower risk of Parkinson’s disease than those in the lowest group.”
Meanwhile, a 2005 meta-analysis published in the journal Lancet Neurology also found that an increased amount of vitamin E reduces your risk of developing Parkinson’s by 19 percent.
Similar to vitamin C, vitamin E is also an antioxidant that’s used to boost your body’s immune system. The fat-soluble nutrient, which can be found in vegetable oils, nuts, and green vegetables, also protects your cells from free radical damage, according to NIH.
And to see if you’re lacking another common nutrient, here are 20 Symptoms of Vitamin D Deficiency, According to Medical Experts.
But too much vitamin E can also have negative side effects.
According to Hantikainen, more research is needed to truly know the exact amount of vitamins C and E that would best prevent Parkinson’s.
But, she said in a statement, “the possibility of being able to reduce the risk of Parkinson’s disease simply with the foods we eat is encouraging news”—emphasis on “foods we eat.” Hantikainen says people should exercise caution when it comes to taking supplements, particularly in the case of vitamin E. “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,” she said, adding that “too much vitamin E from supplements has been linked in other studies to a higher risk of certain cancers or stroke.”
Possible side effects from a higher dose of vitamin E include nausea, headache, blurred vision, fatigue, or intestinal cramps, the Mayo Clinic says. They note that vitamin E use can also increase the risk of prostate cancer, or worse, death in people with a “severe history of heart disease.” So, as always, it’s best to consult your doctor before you add any supplements to your routine.
And for more vitamin news, check out If You’re Overdoing This Supplement, Your Heart Is at Risk, Doctors Say.