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


Survey Participants

The analytic sample (N = 205) included data from individuals who completed the questionnaire and lived within the United States (Figure). Sixty percent of respondents were female and 94.1% were white and an average age of 60 years old (Table 1). Ninety-two percent of respondents reported attending college, and 30.7% had completed postgraduate degrees.


Participants included and excluded.

Dietary Supplement use

The percentage of respondents reporting taking at least 1 dietary supplement in the past 30 days was 83.4% (171/205). This is significantly higher (P < 0.0001) than the reported dietary supplement use of the US adult population from 2007 to 2010 and the older adult population from 2011 to 2014.[3] Moreover, this is significantly higher (P < 0.0001) than the previously reported dietary supplement use of those with PD from 2001 to 2002.[5] Of dietary supplement users, 55.6% (95/171) took between 1 and 5 dietary supplements. Of the dietary supplement users, 43% reported taking ≥6 different supplements per day. In addition, 29.2% (50/171) did not discuss their supplement use with a healthcare professional.

The frequencies of types of dietary supplements used can be found in Table 2. More than half of the participants taking dietary supplements took multivitamins, vitamin D, and vitamin B12 (52.6%, 74.3%, and 56.1%, respectively). In addition to the 13 dietary supplements that were included in the questionnaire, participants reported using 81 additional types of dietary supplements in the free-text question. Additional dietary supplements that were used by at least 10 people are shown in Table 2. Other less commonly reported supplements can be found in Supplemental Digital Content Table 1 ( Frequency of use was not associated with any of the selected demographic variables tested.

Frequencies were used to assess the percentages of dietary supplement users who were taking each supplement for PD or for other health reasons; additionally, they were asked whether they started taking each supplement before or after their PD diagnosis. For those taking CoQ10, Mucuna pruriens, folate, vitamin B12, vitamin B6, melatonin, and NAC, more than half of the respondents reported using them specifically for PD (Table 3).