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The Role of Vitamin D in the Pathophysiology of Schizophrenia

Author(s): Beatriz Samoes, Celeste Silveira



The neurodevelopmental hypothesis of schizophrenia sets the importance of genetic and environmental factors, such as vitamin D deficiency, in an early critical phase of brain development, causing a disturbance that may affect the individual’s health as a young adult when other events take place during the maturation of the brain.

Methods and Findings:

Pubmed database was used to search the 57 articles included in this review. Individuals born in winter and early spring months, living at higher latitudes or in urban areas and migrating to colder climates, thus with less vitamin D levels, have increased risk of schizophrenia, while individuals with more uptake of vitamin D have lesser risk. Several epidemiologic studies have already shown an association between maternal vitamin D deficiency and increased risk of schizophrenia in the offspring. Animal developmental vitamin D deficient models suggest a possible dopaminergic dysfunction but there might be other mechanisms involved, such as a disruption in glutamatergic transmission. Therefore, adequate VD supplementation during critical phases of life, including pregnancy, may be relevant, since pregnant females are a risk group for vitamin D deficiency.


Epidemiologic studies and animal models suggest a role of low maternal levels of vitamin D in the pathophysiology of schizophrenia. More well-designed prospective studies are needed to strengthen the association, as well as clinical trials to evaluate the impact of vitamin D supplementation.

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