Dietary Approaches to Improve Efficacy and Control Side Effects of Levodopa Therapy in Parkinson's Disease: A Systematic Review

Jikke T Boelens Keun, Ilse Ac Arnoldussen, Chris Vriend, Ondine van de Rest

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


Although levodopa remains the most effective drug for symptomatic management of Parkinson's Disease (PD), treatment during advanced disease stages may raise unpredictable motor fluctuations and other complications. Counteracting these complications with other pharmacological therapies may prompt a vicious circle of side effects, and here, nutritional therapy may have great potential. Knowledge about the role of diet in PD is emerging and multiple studies have investigated nutritional support specifically with respect to levodopa therapy. With this systematic review, we aim to give a comprehensive overview of dietary approaches to optimize levodopa treatment in PD. A systematic search was performed using the databases of PubMed and Scopus between January 1985 and September 2020. Nutritional interventions with the rationale to optimize levodopa therapy in human PD patients were eligible for this study and their quality was assessed with the Cochrane risk-of-bias tool. In total, we included 22 papers that addressed the effects of dietary proteins (n = 10), vitamins (n = 7), fiber (n = 2), soybeans (n = 1), caffeine (n = 1), and ketogenic diets (n = 1) on levodopa therapy. Interventions with protein redistribution diets (PRDs), dietary fiber, vitamin C, and caffeine improved levodopa absorption, thereby enhancing clinical response and reducing motor fluctuations. Furthermore, supplementation of vitamin B-12, vitamin B-6, and folic acid successfully reduced high homocysteine concentrations that emerged from levodopa metabolism and promoted many metabolic and clinical complications, such as neuropathology and osteoporosis. In conclusion, dietary interventions have the potential to optimize levodopa efficacy and control side effects. Nutrition that improves levodopa absorption, including PRDs, fiber, vitamin C, and caffeine, is specifically recommended when fluctuating clinical responses appear. Supplements of vitamin B-12, vitamin B-6, and folic acid are advised along with levodopa initiation to attenuate hyperhomocysteinemia, and importantly, their potential to treat consequent metabolic and clinical complications warrants future research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2265-2287
Number of pages23
JournalAdvances in nutrition
Issue number6
Early online date10 Jun 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2021


  • Parkinson's Disease
  • diet
  • levodopa
  • nutritional therapy
  • vitamin B

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