Vitamin D, neurocognitive functioning and immunocompetence

Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2011 Jan;14(1):7-14. doi: 10.1097/MCO.0b013e3283414c38.


Purpose of review: Vitamin D deficiency is recognized as one of the most common medical conditions in children and adults. The major causes are inadequate sun exposure and inadequate intakes of dietary and supplemental vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency defined as a 25-hydroxyvitamin D level less than 20 and 21-29 ng/ml, respectively, have been linked to increased risk for a variety of medical conditions including cancer, heart disease, type II diabetes, infectious diseases, autoimmune diseases, metabolic bone diseases and neurological disorders.

Recent findings: The skeletal muscle and brain have a vitamin D receptor and the central nervous system has a capacity to activate vitamin D. Low vitamin D status has been linked to poor performance in neurocognitive testing in elderly. Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with muscle weakness, depression, schizophrenia, Alzheimer's disease, multiple sclerosis and a lower motor neuron-induced muscle atrophy.

Summary: Correcting vitamin D deficiency and preventing vitamin D deficiency in children and adults should be a high priority for healthcare professionals to reduce risk for a wide variety of neurological disorders. Children and adults should take at least 400 international unit IU and 2000 IU vitamin D/day, respectively, to prevent vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Autoimmune Diseases / etiology*
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders / etiology*
  • Multiple Sclerosis / etiology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / etiology*
  • Receptors, Calcitriol / metabolism
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / complications*


  • Receptors, Calcitriol