Vitamin D plays a very important role in maintaining your bone health, but researchers of the study claim that deficiency of this vitamin, due to insufficient exposure to sunlight, is bad for the brain and other organs.
Even among quite healthy older people, deficiency of vitamin D has been associated with reduced memory and reasoning. In the meantime, evidence for an association with intellectual illness, mainly schizophrenia, keeps increasing. Now, neuroscientists may have discovered a probable mechanism.
Findings of the study
For this, the research was conducted at the University of Queensland on mice. When researchers deprived the healthy adult rats of vitamin D, their perineuronal nets were affected, decreasing by as much as half in the vital hippocampus region.
These perineuronal nets were then compared to scaffolding for the brain. They stabilize the important neurons of the brain and the connections between them. There the researchers observed fewer and weaker connections between neurons which lost their nets. Thus, researchers concluded that vitamin D may offer protection against enzymes which cut into the scaffolding.
Researchers found that perineuronal nets are not always useful, in some parts of the brain, they may inhibit new learning, and their removal there has been found to help Alzheimer’s sufferers.
However, the net loss was focused in the hippocampus, where strong scaffolding seems vital to memory formation. Undoubtedly, these vitamin D deficient mice were less able to learn things than counterparts with intact nets and adequate vitamin D.
Surprisingly, researchers found that the right side of the rats’ hippocampus was more affected than the left one. Why this might be is not clear, but according to researchers, the right hippocampus is very important for reality perceptions.
Of all the necessary molecules for good health, vitamin D seems improbable for the widespread deficiency. You can get an adequate dose by spending some time outside with skin uncovered. Moreover, many foods are also a rich source of vitamin D.
Researchers of the study stated that the relationship linking vitamin D to brain health is quite complicated. As if you take anyone with almost any disease, they will usually have lower vitamin D levels than healthy controls.
Thus, it seems like vitamin D deficiency is a consequence of getting ill. However, for some situations, like cognitive decline among the elderly, there is a reason to believe that a vitamin D shortage is a cause as well as an effect.
Limitations of the study
Researchers acknowledged that the study leaves many questions unanswered. The team has many theories on why vitamin D is essential for strong scaffolds and how to test them, but still, they have no confirmation.
Researchers stated that there are so many roles for vitamin D in the brain, it is probable that weak scaffolding is one of many ways its absence is felt and theories about others remain untested.
They hope, however, that the publication of a mechanism will show the fact that vitamin D is promoted for cancer prevention and bone health, but hardly for the brain.
Researchers were also particularly excited to have discovered that these nets can change in adult mice. As, they are dynamic so there is a chance that they can be rebuilt, and that could set the step for new treatments.