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Parkinson's and Supplements

Should I Take Supplements for Parkinson's Disease?

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Updated May 11, 2009

Parkinson's and Supplements tinpalace/HAAP Media
First of all, there are no 'Parkinson's supplements' -- those that research has solidly proven to specifically help manage the disease. But that doesn't mean you won't here about supplements -- or that they shouldn't be considered at all.

When you are diagnosed with Parkinson's disease (PD), you will soon be bombarded by both marketers and salesman -- as well as by well-meaning individuals -- with the idea of buying and taking all kinds of dietary supplements. These include vitamins, herbal preparations, ginkgo biloba, Chinese herbal concoctions, all kinds of teas, coenzyme Q10, over-the-counter anti-oxidants, fish oil, omega-3 fatty acids and much more. The thing to keep in mind is that most supplements have not been proven to be of value to people with Parkinson's.

There are some exceptions. Vitamin E may be beneficial to people with PD, but the scientific community is still evaluating this. Omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial to people with PD, but that is simply because they are beneficial to everyone -- with or without the disease. Your doctor may recommend adding supplements such as daily multivitamin, iron, or calcium pill because he or she is concerned that you are not getting these essential nutrients in your diet.

So, while the idea of 'Parkinson's supplements' isn't one to be held on to, you and your doctor may consider them for overall health and wellness reasons.

An important note to remember, however: Most supplements are more difficult to absorb than regular food. So whenever possible, you should try to get your nutrients from food sources -- more nutrient bang and much better tasting!

Sources:

Weiner, W. J., Shulman, L.M. and Lang, A. E. (2007). Parkinsons Disease, Second Edition, A Complete guide for patients and families. Johns Hopkins Press Book, Baltimore.

Marczewska A, De Notaris R, Sieri S, Barichella M, Fusconi E, Pezzoli G. Protein intake in Parkinsonian patients using the EPIC food frequency questionnaire. Movement Disorder. 2006 Aug;21(8):1229-31.

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