Vitamin D and the central nervous system

Pharmacol Rep. 2013;65(2):271-8. doi: 10.1016/s1734-1140(13)71003-x.


Vitamin D is formed in human epithelial cells via photochemical synthesis and is also acquired from dietary sources. The so-called classical effect of this vitamin involves the regulation of calcium homeostasis and bone metabolism. Apart from this, non-classical effects of vitamin D have recently gained renewed attention. One important yet little known of the numerous functions of vitamin D is the regulation of nervous system development and function. The neuroprotective effect of vitamin D is associated with its influence on neurotrophin production and release, neuromediator synthesis, intracellular calcium homeostasis, and prevention of oxidative damage to nervous tissue. Clinical studies suggest that vitamin D deficiency may lead to an increased risk of disease of the central nervous system (CNS), particularly schizophrenia and multiple sclerosis. Adequate intake of vitamin D during pregnancy and the neonatal period seems to be crucial in terms of prevention of these diseases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Central Nervous System / physiology
  • Central Nervous System / physiopathology
  • Central Nervous System Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Central Nervous System Diseases / prevention & control
  • Epithelial Cells / metabolism
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects
  • Pregnancy
  • Vitamin D / administration & dosage
  • Vitamin D / metabolism*
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / complications*
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / physiopathology


  • Vitamin D
  • Calcium