A randomized, controlled pilot study of the effects of vitamin D supplementation on balance in Parkinson's disease: Does age matter?

PLoS One. 2018 Sep 26;13(9):e0203637. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0203637. eCollection 2018.


Objectives: To explore if short term, high dose vitamin D supplementation is safe and improves balance in persons with Parkinson's disease (PD).

Methods: A pilot randomized, double-blind intervention trial to measure the effects of 16 weeks of high dose vitamin D (10,000 IU/day) on balance as well as other motor and non-motor features of PD. We measured balance, gait, strength, falls, cognition, mood, PD severity, and quality of life before and after 16 weeks of high dose vitamin D supplementation or placebo. All participants also received 1000 mg calcium once daily.

Results: Fifty-one randomized participants completed sixteen weeks of high dose vitamin D supplementation or placebo. The intervention resulted in a rise in serum concentrations of vitamin D (25-OH) (30.2 ng/ml to 61.1 ng/ml) and was well tolerated with no serious adverse events. Serum vitamin D (25-OH) levels rose steadily and did not suggest a leveling off at the end of the 16 weeks. There was not an improvement in the primary endpoint, balance as measured by the Sensory Organization Test (p = 0.43). A post hoc analysis examining treatment effects in younger (ages 52-66) versus older (ages 67-86) participants found a significant improvement in the SOT of 10.6 points in the younger half of the cohort (p = 0.012).

Conclusions: Short term, high dose vitamin D supplementation appears safe in persons with PD, but did not significantly improve balance as measured with the Sensory Organization Test in this pilot study population. A post hoc analysis suggests that vitamin D may have potential for improving balance in a younger population with PD. High dose vitamin D supplementation in PD needs further study especially in light of new research suggesting that mega doses and even moderate doses (as low as 4000IU a day) may increase falls in an older populations.

Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov: NCT01119131.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Calcium / therapeutic use
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Parkinson Disease / drug therapy*
  • Parkinson Disease / pathology
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vitamin D / therapeutic use*


  • Vitamin D
  • Calcium

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT01119131