Better Thinking and Less Depression with Higher Levels of Vitamin D
Amie L. Peterson, M.D. is first author on a study that was published in The Journal of Parkinson’s Disease that reports that higher Vitamin D levels in early PARKINSON’S DISEASE improve performance on cognition and mood tests. This study may open new interventions to prevent cognitive decline if started early in the course of the disease. Dr. Peterson is on the staff of Oregon Health and Sciences University.
The study examined vitamin D levels of 286 subjects and tested their performance in a battery of tests designed to measure memory and cognitive skills as well as indications of mood, such as depression. 61 of the subjects were considered to be demented, and their testing scores also showed a correlation to lower levels of vitamin D. For the remainder of the group, higher levels of vitamin D did correlate to better performance with memory and recall tests as well as ability to name images of animals and vegetables. They were also found to be less depressed as measured on a well known depression scale.
It was not known if any of the subjects in the study were currently taking supplements of vitamin D, nor is the authors willing to comment on whether or not vitamin D was the cause of the improvement. They speculate that more advanced subjects who already were slowed by the disease and dementia were less able to get outside and had limited exposure to sunshine, the major source of vitamin D. The results do suggest that there is a strong correlation between higher levels of vitamin D and better cognition with less depression. Because cognitive impairment early in the course of PARKINSON’S DISEASE may predict the development of dementia in later stages, anything that slows the development of cognitive problems could improve the quality of life and slow the course of the disease for people in the early stages.
“Memory, Mood, and Vitamin D in Persons with Parkinson’s Disease,” by Amie L. Peterson, Charles Murchison, Cyrus Zabetian, James Leverenz, G. Stennis Watson, Thomas Montine, Natasha Carney, Gene L. Bowman, Karen Edward, and Joseph F. Quinn. Journal of Parkinson’s Disease, Volume 3/Issue 4, DOI: 10.3233/JPD-130206
Review by Marcia McCall