For well over a decade now the natural health world has been inundated with advice regarding vitamin D supplementation.
One of the main reasons vitamin D became so popular is because there was clear evidence supporting its use as a bone strength modulator.
Vitamin D, which is made by our bodies when skin is exposed to varying bands of UV sunlight, helps to activate processes in the body wherein osteoclasts and osteoblasts build and tear down bone.
Without vitamin D the cellular process of bone repair doesn’t happen.
Now researchers are starting to believe that if a person doesn’t get high enough levels of vitamin D their brains could suffer as well.
Vitamin D Is Necessary For Brain Structure
Researchers led by Thomas Burne, an associate professor at the University of Queensland Brain Institute in St. Lucia, Australia recently published findings in the journal Trends in Neurosciences indicating vitamin D was essential for forming the scaffolding of the brain, and that without vitamin D that sensitive scaffolding could fall apart.
To see just how important vitamin D is for brain structure the researchers took healthy adult mice and artificially reduced their vitamin levels down to 0 for a 20-week span.
At the end of the 20 weeks, they compared the mice to a control group who’d been given the normal daily value of vitamin D.
The testing showed that the mice in the vitamin D starved model weren’t as quick to learn new things and failed to remember as well as the mice who’d been given vitamin D.
Ana Sandiou writes:
“Scans of the rodents’ brains showed a reduction in the so-called perineuronal nets in the hippocampus — the brain area that is key for memory formation.
The perineuronal nets act like “scaffolding” in the brain. “These nets form a strong, supportive mesh around certain neurons, and in doing so, they stabilize the contacts these cells make with other neurons,” Burne explains.
The researcher goes on to report that, “There was also a stark reduction in both the number and strength of connections between neurons in [the hippocampus].”
Although the study did not firmly establish this mechanism, the researchers think that vitamin D deficiency makes perineuronal nets more vulnerable to the degrading action of enzymes.
“As neurons in the hippocampus lose their supportive perineuronal nets, they have trouble maintaining connections, and this ultimately leads to a loss of cognitive function,” Burne says.
What Does That Mean For Brain Health?
If the scaffolding of the brain were to fall apart owing to a lack of vitamin D it could lead to the development of numerous mental illness,
Burne and his team posited the collapse of the hippocampus might lead to the development of schizophrenia, memory loss and cognitive distortions.
Burne and his team plan to do more tests on how vitamin D affects the formation of perineuronal nets so they can determine if there are ways to reverse the damage once it’s been done.
“We are also particularly excited to have discovered these nets can change in adult mice. I’m hoping that because they’re dynamic, there is a chance that we can rebuild them, and that could set the stage for new treatments.”