During Parkinson’s, cells in the parts of the brain that control movement and regulate mood are gradually destroyed. The primary defect in Parkinson’s is a loss of dopaminergic neurons (such as dopamine-producing neurons) in a part of the brain called the substantia nigra. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that modulates movement (Purves D et al 2001). In Parkinson’s disease, the dopamine-producing nerve cells are destroyed by high levels of oxidative damage (Atasoy HT et al 2004; Ross GW et al 2004). There is evidence that this oxidative damage is, in turn, caused by defects in the cells’ mitochondria, or power-generating centers.
Vitamin C may relieve the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease by neutralizing dopamine free radicals (Sakagami H et al 1998) and toxic quinones released from dopamine metabolism (Pardo B et al 1995), thereby protecting brain cells from levodopa-induced damage (Mytilineou C et al 1993). In the laboratory, bathing nerve cells in vitamin C enhanced dopamine synthesis (Seitz G et al 1998).
Bioflavonoids, which provide the red, pink, and purple colors in fruits and vegetables, are even stronger antioxidants than vitamin C. Most are water soluble and easily penetrate the brain. Suggested antioxidant supplements include grape seed extract. The herbal compound Ginkgo biloba contains numerous antioxidants, including proanthocyanins and flavonoids, which help maintain healthy brain function, circulation, and metabolism.
Polyphenols are antioxidants found in green tea, which are being investigated for their potential to protect against Parkinson’s disease (Weinreb O et al 2004). Polyphenols are also found in extracts of grape seeds and other plants. Like the bioflavonoids, they are powerful antioxidants. They may also inhibit the nerve cell damage in diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
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Title: Four Steps for Every Diabetic
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