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April 2012

Flavonoid Intake Linked to Decreased Parkinson's Disease Risk

A recent study suggests that consuming some flavonoids may decrease the risk for Parkinson's disease in men.

Flavonoids are antioxidant compounds found in fruits, vegetables, tea, red wine and dark chocolate. Some research suggests that a diet high in flavonoids may help protect against heart disease. However, more high-quality studies are needed before a conclusion can be drawn.

In a new study, researchers analyzed data on 49,281 men from the Health Professional Follow-up Study and 80,336 women from the Nurse's Health Study. The researchers reviewed data on flavonoid intake from various sources, including berries, red wine, apples and tea.

Throughout the 20-22 year follow-up period, 805 cases of Parkinson's disease were identified. The researchers reported that a significant link between flavonoid consumption and Parkinson's disease risk in women was lacking. However, men who consumed the most flavonoids had a 40 percent reduced risk of developing Parkinson's disease when compared to those who consumed the least.

When evaluating flavonoid sources, berry consumption was linked to a significantly reduced risk of Parkinson's disease. Intake of anthocyanin, a type of flavonoid, was also significantly linked to a reduced risk for the disease. Blueberries have high levels of anthocyanins.

The authors concluded that consuming some flavonoids may reduce the risk for Parkinson's disease in men. Additional research is needed to further evaluate these findings.

Parkinson's disease is a movement disorder that is chronic and progressive, meaning that symptoms continue and worsen over time. Parkinson's disease affects nerve cells in a part of the brain that controls muscle movement. Cells in an area of the brain called the substantia nigra begin to malfunction and die.

Many integrative therapies have been studied for their potential benefits in people with Parkinson's disease. Music therapy has been shown to provide modest improvements in symptoms including in some aspects of motor coordination, speech intelligibility and vocal intensity, bradykinesia (slow movement), emotional functions, activities of daily living and quality of life. There is also promising human evidence for the use of CoQ10 in the treatment of Parkinson's disease. However, better-designed trials are needed before firm conclusions can be made.

For more information about integrative therapies for Parkinson's disease, please visit Natural Standard's Comparative Effectiveness Database.

For more information about flavonoids in fruits, vegetables, tea, red wine and dark chocolate, please visit Natural Standard's Foods, Herbs & Supplements Database.

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  1. Gao X, Cassidy A, Schwarzschild MA, et al. Habitual intake of dietary flavonoids and risk of Parkinson disease. Neurology 2012 Apr 4 2012 doi: 10.1212/WNL.0b013e31824f7fc4
  2. Natural Standard: The Authority on Integrative Medicine.
The information in this brief report is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions. Copyright 2013 Natural Standard Inc. Commercial distribution or reproduction prohibited.