From time to time we are reminded of how much we still need to understand about the various functions that many nutrients perform. This time is the often overlooked Vitamin D, proving that its impact on the body extends to brain function and mental health.
“We’re still not entirely certain of the role vitamin D plays in brain function and development, but we do know there are vitamin D receptor sites in various brain cells. We don’t know exactly what happens when those receptor sites aren’t active, but we do know they are there and that they are there for a reason,” Dr. Cheng
In a study presented at the American Psychiatric Association 2011 Annual Meeting by investigators at the Oregon Health & Science University in Portland it was found that children with mental health problems are twice more likely to be deficient in Vitamin D than mentally healthy children.
“Low vitamin D is so easily diagnosed that overlooking it may represent a missed opportunity. Psychiatric diagnoses are often not as clear-cut as many other [medical] illnesses where you can get a lab value or an imaging test and based on the results make a definitive diagnosis. But with low vitamin D you can get a number, and it is pretty easy to diagnose and treat,” Dr. Cheng
What was interesting to note is that a standardised cut-off level for vitamin D deficiency is currently missing, underlining the lack of attention many crucial nutrients have received in both research and clinical practice (As some of you know it is difficult to find funding to research a molecule that cannot be patented!).
“Defining what constitutes vitamin D deficiency was one of the very challenging parts of this study and others. There is controversy about this all over the place. Some studies say 15 [ng/mL], some say 20, some say 30, some say 32. There really needs to be a standardised cutoff level,” said Ms. Zhang.
“What we are recommending right now is just to follow the AAP and the Institute of Medicine cutoff value, which uses 20 ng/mL,” said Dr. Cheng
Info and quotes are from: Medscape Medical News, Psychiatry. Low Vitamin D: a Contributor to Mental Disorders in Children? Caroline Cassels (2011),
To read the full article go to: www.medscape.com/viewarticle/743846
The study discussed is from: American Psychiatric Association (APA) 2011 Annual Meeting: NR01-67. Presented May 14, 2011
To avoid Vitamin D deficiencies:
Ensure you spend 20 minutes in the sunshine every day as well as including foods such as cod liver oil, fish (salmon, sardines, tuna), butter and eggs in your diet. If supplementation is necessary always ensure to take only the D3 form and never D2 form (this is a mistake carried over from studies using animal models with rats, which being nocturnal produce Vitamin D in a different way from us) and never take more than 5,000IU per day (which is a pretty high dose)
A study presented here at the
American Psychiatric Association (APA) 2011 Annual Meeting: NR01-67. Presented May 14, 2011