In a definitive critical review, scientists at Childrens Hospital & Research Center Oakland ask whether there is convincing biological or behavioral evidence linking vitamin D deficiency to brain dysfunction. Joyce C. McCann, Ph.D., assistant staff scientist and Bruce N. Ames, Ph.D., senior scientist at Childrens Hospital Oakland Research Institute (CHORI) conclude that there is ample biological evidence to suggest an important role for vitamin D in brain development and function, and that supplementation for groups chronically low in vitamin D is warranted. Their conclusions will be published on April 22, 2008 in the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) Journal.
This critical analysis of vitamin D function and the brain is a model of careful thinking about nutrition and behavior, says Gerald Weissmann, MD, Editor-in-Chief of the FASEB Journal One wishes that all studies of nutritional supplements or requirements were this thoughtful. Drs. McCann and Ames deftly show that while vitamin D has an important role in the development and function of the brain, its exact effects on behavior remain unclear. Pointing to the need for further study, the authors argue for vitamin D supplementation in groups at risk.
Vitamin D has long been known to promote healthy bones by regulating calcium levels in the body. Lack of sufficient vitamin D in very young children results in rickets, which can be easily prevented by vitamin D supplements. Only recently the scientific community has become aware of a much broader role for vitamin D. For example, we now know that, in addition to its role in maintaining bone health, vitamin D is involved in differentiation of tissues during development and in proper functioning of the immune system. In fact, over 900 different genes are now known to be able to bind the vitamin D receptor, through which vitamin D mediates its effects. In addition to protecting against rickets, evidence now strongly
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Children's Hospital & Research Center at Oakland