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Parkinson's Disease Health Center

Vitamin E in Foods Prevents Parkinson's

But Pills Don't Pack Anti-Parkinson's Punch
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Oct. 21, 2002 -- Say "nuts" to Parkinson's disease. Nuts and other foods rich in vitamin E lower the risk of this debilitating illness, a dietary study suggests.

These foods must have more good stuff than just the vitamin, however. People who took vitamin E pills did not lower their risk of Parkinson's. Only those whose diets were heavy on vitamin-E-rich foods -- particularly nuts -- got the benefit.

"We found no evidence that use of vitamin E or C supplements or multivitamins reduced the risk of Parkinson's," study author Shumin Zhang, MD, ScD, said in a news release. Zhang and colleagues at Harvard Medical School reported the findings in the Oct. 22 issue of Neurology.

Zhang's team gathered detailed information on the diets of 76,890 women and 47,331 men enrolled in two huge studies of diet and health. Both studies enrolled healthcare workers. People who sign up for this kind of study tend to have healthier lifestyles than those who don't. That means there may be other healthy things, in addition to a diet rich in vitamin E, that help lower the risk of Parkinson's disease.

Compared with those who ate the fewest servings of vitamin E-filled food, those who ate the most had 32% fewer cases of Parkinson's disease after 12 to 14 years.

Foods rich in vitamin E include:

  • Nuts, especially almonds, hazelnuts, and sunflower seeds.
  • Peanut butter.
  • Wheat germ.
  • Leafy green vegetables including chard, dandelion greens, kohlrabi, mustard greens, and turnip greens.
  • Pumpkin
  • Some meats including liver, chicken, and turkey.
  • Seafoods such as clams, croaker, mullet, ocean perch, mackerel, salmon, scallops, and shrimp.
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