Dietary Supplement Use Is High Among Individuals With Parkinson Disease

Christine C. Ferguson, MS, RD; Linda L. Knol, PhD, RD; Anne Halli-Tierney, MD; Amy C. Ellis, PhD, RD


South Med J. 2019;112(12):621-625. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


Objectives: To assess the present use of dietary supplements among the Parkinson disease (PD) population and to determine which dietary supplements are most commonly taken.

Methods: This cross-sectional study used an online questionnaire that was administered to individuals with PD via support group Web sites. Dietary supplement users also were asked whether they spoke with a healthcare professional about their supplement use.

Results: Of the 205 respondents, 83.4% reported taking at least 1 dietary supplement. Although 94 different types of dietary supplements were identified, >50% of participants taking dietary supplements took multivitamins, vitamin D, and vitamin B12 (52.6%, 74.3%, and 56.1%, respectively). Respondents reported taking coenzyme Q10, Mucuna pruriens, folate, vitamin B12, vitamin B6, melatonin, and N-acetylcysteine most commonly for PD. Among supplement users, 29.2% did not discuss their supplement use with a healthcare practitioner.

Conclusions: The results of this study demonstrate a high prevalence of dietary supplement use among individuals with PD, in addition to a wide variety of supplements being taken. This study's findings also indicate the need for better dialog between patients and healthcare practitioners regarding the use of dietary supplements.


As defined by the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (Public Law 103–417), dietary supplements may include "a vitamin, mineral, an herb or other botanical, an amino acid, … or a concentrate, metabolite, constituent, extract, or combination of any ingredient."[1] The use of complementary and alternative medicine, including dietary supplements, is more common among people with chronic diseases.[2] Survey data also have shown that older adults are more likely than younger adults to take dietary supplements.[3] Because Parkinson disease (PD) is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that primarily affects adults ages 65 and older, it is likely that dietary supplement use is particularly high among this population.[4]

There is a paucity of data regarding the present use of dietary supplements among individuals with PD, however. Using data collected from 2000–2001, Wolfrath et al found that 63% of participants with PD were taking at least one dietary supplement, but the present use of dietary supplements in this population is uncharacterized.[5] As such, the primary aim of this study was to update the evidence base by identifying dietary supplements that are commonly being taken by individuals with PD. A secondary aim was to determine whether people who used dietary supplements discussed their supplementation with a healthcare provider.