Vitamin D and neurocognitive dysfunction: preventing "D"ecline?

Mol Aspects Med. 2008 Dec;29(6):415-22. doi: 10.1016/j.mam.2008.05.001. Epub 2008 May 13.


A preponderance of evidence supports a role for vitamin D beyond the classical function in mineral homeostasis. Epidemiologic investigations have revealed a beneficial role of vitamin D in muscle function, cardiovascular health, diabetes, and cancer prevention. More recently, studies have suggested a potential beneficial role of vitamin D in cognitive function. Vitamin D exhibits functional attributes that may prove neuroprotective through antioxidative mechanisms, neuronal calcium regulation, immunomodulation, enhanced nerve conduction and detoxification mechanisms. Compelling evidence supports a beneficial role for the active form of vitamin D in the developing brain as well as in adult brain function. The vitamin D receptor and biosynthetic and degradative pathways for the hydroxylation of vitamin D have been found in the rodent brain; more recently these findings have been confirmed in humans. The vitamin D receptor and catalytic enzymes are colocalized in the areas of the brain involved in complex planning, processing, and the formation of new memories. These findings potentially implicate vitamin D in neurocognitive function.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / anatomy & histology
  • Brain / blood supply
  • Brain / cytology
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Cognition Disorders / metabolism
  • Cognition Disorders / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Nervous System Diseases / metabolism
  • Nervous System Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Receptors, Calcitriol / metabolism
  • Vitamin D / metabolism*
  • Vitamin D / pharmacology*


  • Receptors, Calcitriol
  • Vitamin D
  • Calcium