Now experts have revealed a diet rich in antioxidants can help protect against Parkinson’s disease.
Parkinson’s disease is a progressive disease of the nervous system which causes symptoms including a tremor, muscular rigidity, and slow, imprecise movement.
Scientists in Sweden analysed 38,937 women and 45,837 men, looking at their diets over a course of almost 15 years.
Experts identified 1,329 patients with Parkinson’s disease but found the risk of contracting the disease was significantly lowered in those who had a good intake of both vitamin E and beta-carotene.
“Dietary antioxidants including vitamin C, E, and carotenoids have been suggested as neuro-protective agents for Parkinson’s disease, based on their property of reducing oxidative damage,” said Karin Wirdefeldt, lead author from the Department of Clinical Neuroscience at Stockholm’s Karolinska Institute.
“Evidence for a neuro-protective effect of dietary antioxidants on Parkinson’s disease risk is, however, largely limited and inconsistent.
“Our results showed that dietary intake of beta-carotene was associated with a lower risk of PD.”
Dr Wirdefeldt said vitamin E in diet is crucial – particularly among females,
“An inverse association between dietary intake of vitamin E and Parkinson’s disease risk was found in women, but not in men,” she said.
“Generally, women have a lower risk of PD than men and antioxidant activity of oestrogen has been suggested to protect against Parkinson’s disease.”
Good sources of beta carotene is found in carrots, spinach, lettuce, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, broccoli and melon.
In general, the more intense the colour of the fruit or vegetable, the more beta carotene it has in it.
Meanwhile vitamin E can be harder to get naturally – but can be gleaned from almonds, leafy vegetables, seafood, soy, avocado, vegetable oils and peanuts.
The Swedish study also showed how incidents of Parkinson’s disease were lower for smokers than non-smokers.
Men are most likely to be diagnosed at 74.6 years old, and women at 75.7 years old.
Shamir Patel, founder of online pharmacy Chemist 4U, said the research illustrates the importance of dietary supplements.
He said: “The benefits of beta carotene and vitamin E have long been discussed.
“In the body, beta carotene is converted into vitamin A, which in turn has been linked to good vision and eye health, as well as a strong immune system and healthy skin.
“As an antioxidant, it also helps to protect cells from the damaging effects of harmful free radicals.
“Like beta carotene, vitamin E is also said to maintain healthy skin and eyes, while strengthening the body’s natural defence against illness and infection.
“This is the first time beta carotene has been associated with a clinically significant reduction in the onset of Parkinson’s.”
Men require around 4mg of Vitamin E every day while some require 3mg.
Most beta carotene supplements contain between 6mg and 9mg of the substance per capsule, which is taken daily.
According to the charity Parkinson’s UK, the number of people in the UK diagnosed with the illness in the UK is set to rise by 28 per cent by 2020.
There are currently around 127,000 people with Parkinson’s in the UK.
This comes after it was revealed Vitamin D could protect against Parkinson’s disease.