Can Brain Health Be Supported by Vitamin D-Based Supplements? A Critical Review

Brain Sci. 2020 Sep 22;10(9):660. doi: 10.3390/brainsci10090660.


This review presents recent knowledge on the neuroprotective effects of vitamin D and their usefulness as oral supplementation when combined with other molecules, such as curcumin. A critical look at the effectiveness of vitamin D in this field is also provided. Vitamin D plays a crucial role in neuroprotection and in the cognitive decline associated with aging, where vitamin D's levels are related to the levels of several neurotrophic factors. An important role of vitamin D has also been observed in the mechanism of neuroinflammation, which is the basis of several aging conditions, including cognitive decline and neurodegeration; furthermore, the neuroprotective effect of vitamin D in the cognitive decline of aging has recently been reported. For this reason, many food supplements created for humans contain vitamin D alone or combined with other molecules with antioxidant properties. However, recent studies also explored negative consequences of the use at a high dosage of vitamin D. Vitamin D in tissues or brain cells can also modulate calbindin-D28K, parvalbumin, and calretinin, and is involved in immune function, thanks also to the combination with curcumin. Curcumin acts as a free radical scavenger and antioxidant, inhibiting lipid peroxidation and oxidative DNA damage. In particular, curcumin is a potent immune-regulatory agent and its administration has been reported to attenuate cognitive impairments. These effects could be exploited in the future to control the mechanisms that lead to the brain decay typical of neurodegenerative diseases.

Keywords: VDR; brain aging; neurodegenerative diseases; neuroinflammation; vitamin D.

Publication types

  • Review