Vitamin D Deficiency and the Brain; Links You Need to Know

Vitamin D deficiency has been the rage for the past few years.  Some of it hype, some solidly grounded in research and basic physiology.

Don’t get me wrong–vitamin D deficiency is a very real issue.  And you can tell how well-versed your doctor is on the subject.  Basically, if he or she actually checks your vitamin D levels…he or she is at least 5 years behind in the medical literature.  I’ve covered this before, but we have reached a point where we can just accept that everyone is deficient and recommend supplementation.  The cost is next to nothing (in our office vitamin D runs about $20 per year) and the safety margins are very wide.

But vitamin D is not a panacea.  It’s not going to drop your blood pressure or cholesterol so don’t think you will just take your vitamin D and chase it down with a fast food meal.  It’s not going to grow hair on your head (have you seen my profile photo??).  It’s not going to do much to lower your risk of heart disease.

But some conditions vitamin D can have a pretty strong impact.  These can include:

  1. Breast cancer
  2. Type 2 diabetes
  3. Type 1 diabetes
  4. Boost immune system and prevent infections
  5. Heart disease
  6. Multiple sclerosis

I could go on, but you get the idea.  Now there is another condition that you can add to the list.

In general, vitamin D’s effect on the brain is positive.  There is an association with vitamin D levels and other brain conditions such as depression and dementia.  So the idea that vitamin D could have an impact on schizophrenia should not come as a big surprise, especially in light of the recent admission by the American Psychiatric Association that schizophrenia has an inflammatory component to it.

This particular review looked at a group of 19 studies on the relationship between vitamin D and schizophrenia.  Here’s what they found:

  • Vitamin D deficiency was present in 65.3% of schizophrenic patients.
  • Vitamin D-deficient persons were 2.16 times more likely to have schizophrenia than those with normal levels of vitamin D.

Now, this is a big stretch from saying that we can use vitamin D to treat schizophrenia, but there is clearly a relationship buried in there somewhere.  Overall, it is just another reason to supplement with at least 2,000 IU of vitamin D daily to make sure your levels are optimal (60-100 ng/ml) and not just “normal” (30 ng/ml).

So what are you waiting for??


James Bogash

For more than a decade, Dr. Bogash has stayed current with the medical literature as it relates to physiology, disease prevention and disease management. He uses his knowledge to educate patients, the community and cyberspace on the best way to avoid and / or manage chronic diseases using lifestyle and targeted supplementation.