Vitamin D (vitD) is known for its essential role in calcium homeostasis and bone health. VitD is made endogenously in the skin from UVB radiation from sunlight. VitD is now considered as a potent neurosteroid hormone, critical to brain development and normal brain function, and is known for its anti-inflammatory property affecting various aspects of human health. VitD ligand-receptor, a receptor that mediates much of vitD's biological actions, has been found throughout the body including the central nervous system. VitD deficiency is common in patients with severe mental illness such as schizophrenia. Schizophrenia is a debilitating chronic mental illness characterised by positive symptoms, such as hallucinations and delusions, and negative symptoms including flat affect and lack of motivation. Several environmental risk factors for schizophrenia, such as season of birth, latitude and migration, have been linked to vitD deficiency. Recent studies have suggested a potential role of vitD in the development of schizophrenia. For example, neonatal vitD status is associated with the risk of developing schizophrenia in later life obesity, insulin resistance, diabetes, hyperlipidaemia and cardiovascular disease, which are commonly seen in patients with schizophrenia. It has been well established that vitD deficiency is related to these metabolic problems. The biological mechanism is most likely related to vitD's action on the regulation of inflammatory and immunological processes, consequently affecting the manifestation of clinical symptoms and treatment response of schizophrenia. Potential benefits of vitD supplementation to improve schizophrenia symptoms as well as physical health in patients with schizophrenia should be further explored in future studies.
Published by the BMJ Publishing Group Limited. For permission to use (where not already granted under a licence) please go to http://www.bmj.com/company/products-services/rights-and-licensing/