Why Parkinson’s disease isn’t more common

Dr. Frank Shallenberger, MD

December 6, 2021


In the past, I’ve told you that a deficiency of zinc may be what leads to Parkinson’s disease. And most people have a zinc deficiency. It’s extremely common.

But there’s a problem with that: If most people have a zinc deficiency, why don’t we all get Parkinson’s disease?

If a zinc deficiency was all it took to get Parkinson’s (or Alzheimer’s), we would have many more cases than we do. So there must be other factors.

Now a brand new experimental study further reinforces the zinc-Parkinson’s connection. And it also helps to explain why some people with zinc deficiency get Parkinson’s while others don’t.

In the new study, the researchers looked at the function of zinc to prevent the kind of free-radical damage that causes Parkinson’s. They decided to study the phenomenon in yeast cells.

According to the lead investigator David Eide, there are clear similarities between yeast cells and human cells in this regard. They grew the yeast cells in an environment that was zinc deficient.

They were looking for signs of increased free-radical damage, but what they discovered surprised them.

The cells did not succumb to the free-radical damage as expected. Instead they started making a protein called Tsa1 that controlled free-radical damage even in the face of zinc deficiency. So as long as the cells were able to make enough of this protein, they were safe even though they were deficient in zinc.

However, some of the yeast cells were unable to make enough Tsa1. When that happened, they started to clump up in a pattern that is identical to what we see in the brain cells of patients with Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

The researchers proposed that the reason some people get Parkinson’s in a state of zinc deficiency and others don’t is because not everyone can produce enough Tsa1 protein.

The issue seems to be important only when there is a deficiency of zinc. If you have enough zinc, your production of Tsa1 isn’t as important. So the idea is to make sure that you’re not deficient.

All animal proteins including dairy, eggs, and meats are high in zinc. In addition, it’s important that your take plenty of zinc picolinate on a daily basis. Zinc picolinate is the most easily absorbed and what I recommend for daily maintenance of your zinc levels. You can find it online and at any health food store.


MacDiarmid, C.W., J. Taggart, K. Kerdsomboon, et al. “Peroxiredoxin chaperone activity is critical for protein homeostasis in zinc-deficient yeast.” J Biol Chem., 2013 October 25;288(43):31313-27.

“Zinc discovery may shed light on Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s.” Science Daily, September 30, 2013

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