Cognitive impairmentHow does vitamin D work?

Vitamin D exhibits functional attributes that may prove neuroprotective through antioxidative mechanisms, neuronal calcium regulation, immunomodulation, enhanced nerve conduction and detoxification mechanisms.

Compelling evidence supports a beneficial role for the active form of vitamin D in the developing brain as well as in adult brain function. The vitamin D receptor and biosynthetic and degradative pathways for the hydroxylation of vitamin D have been found in the rodent brain; more recently these findings have been confirmed in humans.

The vitamin D receptor and catalytic enzymes are colocalized in the areas of the brain involved in complex planning, processing, and the formation of new memories. These findings potentially implicate vitamin D in neurocognitive function1

Further information about the benefits of vitamin D on brain function is given in the review by McCann and Ames2

Cardiovascular diseases and their risk factors negatively impact the brain and neurocognitive function prior to stroke, dementia, or mild cognitive impairment3. Vitamin D reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases4.

Page last edited: 09 May 2011


  1. Buell, J. S. Dawson-Hughes, B. Vitamin D and neurocognitive dysfunction: preventing "D"ecline?. Mol Aspects Med. 2008 Dec; 29 (6): 415-22.
  2. McCann, J. C. Ames, B. N. Is there convincing biological or behavioral evidence linking vitamin D deficiency to brain dysfunction?. FASEB J. 2008 Apr; 22 (4): 982-1001.
  3. Waldstein, S. R. Wendell, C. R. Neurocognitive function and cardiovascular disease. J Alzheimers Dis. 20 (3): 833-42.
  4. Parker, J. Hashmi, O. Dutton, D. Mavrodaris, A. Stranges, S. Kandala, N. B. Clarke, A. Franco, O. H. Levels of vitamin D and cardiometabolic disorders: systematic review and meta-analysis. Maturitas. Mar; 65 (3): 225-36.