Jennifer S. Buell, Bess Dawson-Hughes
A preponderance of evidence supports a role for vitamin D beyond the classical function in mineral homeostasis. Epidemiologic investigations have revealed a beneficial role of vita- min D in muscle function, cardiovascular health, diabetes, and cancer prevention. More recently, studies have suggested a potential beneficial role of vitamin D in cognitive function.
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 function.