Supplements

Shocking Link: Vitamin Deficiencies Cause Parkinson’s Disease

While doctors and researchers have gained significant insights into Parkinson’s disease over the past several decades, the exact cause of this neurodegenerative disorder remains elusive. Traditionally, scientists have believed that genetics and various environmental factors play crucial roles in its development. However, recent research has illuminated another potential contributing factor to Parkinson’s disease: vitamin deficiencies.

A study published in May 2024 in the npj Parkinson’s Disease journal aimed to “identify gut microbial features” in individuals who develop Parkinson’s. For this study, researchers conducted a meta-analysis using fecal samples from 94 Parkinson’s patients and 73 healthy controls in Japan. They then compared these findings with data from previous studies conducted in the U.S., Germany, China, and Taiwan.

The study revealed that individuals with Parkinson’s disease exhibited a significant deficiency in bacterial genes essential for the synthesis of two crucial B vitamins: riboflavin (B2) and biotin (B7). “Pathway analysis showed that genes involved in the biosynthesis of riboflavin and biotin were markedly decreased in Parkinson’s disease after adjusting for confounding factors,” the researchers wrote.

Riboflavin, or B2, is a B-complex vitamin found in foods such as meat, fortified grains, and nuts, according to the Cleveland Clinic. “Riboflavin is an essential micronutrient that helps cells develop and function well,” explains registered dietitian Kayla Kopp, RD. “Healthy bacteria in your gut microbiome make small amounts of riboflavin. But your body needs more to function. That’s why it’s important to get enough of this B vitamin in your diet every day.”

The researchers also noted that riboflavin is known to improve oxidative stress, mitochondrial dysfunction, neuroinflammation, and glutamate excitotoxicity, all of which are linked to the development of Parkinson’s disease. Biotin (B7) is another B-complex vitamin, which can be sourced from meat, eggs, fish, seeds, nuts, and some vegetables, as per WebMD. This vitamin supports the nervous system, liver, eyes, hair, and skin. Moreover, biotin “produces anti-inflammatory substances and decreases inflammation, which leads to the relief of allergy, immunological symptoms, and inflammatory bowel disease,” the researchers noted.

Given the health impacts of these vitamin deficiencies, the researchers concluded that individuals with Parkinson’s disease might benefit from taking vitamin B supplements. “Supplementation of riboflavin and/or biotin is likely to be beneficial in a subset of Parkinson’s disease patients, in which gut dysbiosis plays pivotal roles,” they wrote.

However, some experts urge caution in taking this study at face value and immediately following the researchers’ recommendations. While the findings are promising, they highlight the need for further research to fully understand the relationship between vitamin B deficiencies and Parkinson’s disease and to establish effective treatment protocols.

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