The effects of vitamin D on brain development and adult brain function

Mol Cell Endocrinol. 2011 Dec 5;347(1-2):121-7. doi: 10.1016/j.mce.2011.05.014. Epub 2011 Jun 1.


A role for vitamin D in brain development and function has been gaining support over the last decade. Multiple lines of evidence suggest that this vitamin is actually a neuroactive steroid that acts on brain development, leading to alterations in brain neurochemistry and adult brain function. Early deficiencies have been linked with neuropsychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia, and adult deficiencies have been associated with a host of adverse brain outcomes, including Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, depression and cognitive decline. This review summarises the current state of research on the actions of vitamin D in the brain and the consequences of deficiencies in this vitamin. Furthermore, we discuss specific implications of vitamin D status on the neurotransmitter, dopamine.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Brain / growth & development*
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Dopamine / metabolism
  • Dopamine / physiology
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Nervous System Diseases / complications
  • Nervous System Diseases / genetics
  • Nervous System Diseases / metabolism
  • Neuroprotective Agents / metabolism
  • Parkinson Disease / complications
  • Parkinson Disease / metabolism
  • Receptors, Calcitriol / genetics
  • Receptors, Calcitriol / metabolism
  • Receptors, Calcitriol / physiology
  • Schizophrenia / complications
  • Schizophrenia / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction
  • Vitamin D / metabolism
  • Vitamin D / physiology*
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / complications*


  • Neuroprotective Agents
  • Receptors, Calcitriol
  • Vitamin D
  • Dopamine