Researchers from the Erasmus Medical Center in the Netherlands studied around 5,300 participants over the age of 55, and found that those who had the highest intake of vitamin B6 had up to a 50 percent reduction in Parkinson's disease risk.
The researchers believe that vitamin B6 may prevent the disease by decreasing levels of homocysteine -- an amino acid that is potentially toxic to brain cells. Vitamin B6 could also have an antioxidant effect that might aid in preventing Parkinson's, researchers say.
The study tracked the participants from 1990 through 2003 through questionnaires and physical examinations, including neurological exams. Ten years into the study, 72 new cases of Parkinson's had been diagnosed. The researchers found that those who had a daily vitamin B6 intake of 230.9 micrograms or more experienced a 54 percent decrease in Parkinson's risk over those with daily doses of 185.1 micrograms or less.
The researchers also studied the participants' consumption of folate and vitamin B12 and found no significant reductions in Parkinson's risk, but the authors could not entirely rule out the possible effects of those nutrients.
"This research presents yet more encouraging information about the role of nutrition in preventing degenerative diseases like Parkinson's disease," says Mike Adams, consumer health advocate and creator of the NutrientReference.com website that includes a page on vitamin B6. "Despite what conventional medicine believes, the human nervous system does not simply deteriorate after a period of time -- it stays healthy and functional for as long as it receives the necessary nutritional support and sufficient stimulation."