In a review of existing scientific literature, scientists say that, among its other impacts on bone health and possibly reducing cancer risks, vitamin D also plays an important in brain development and function.
McCann & Ames point out that evidence for vitamin D’s involvement in brain function includes the wide distribution of vitamin D receptors throughout the brain. They also discuss vitamin D’s ability to affect proteins in the brain known to be directly involved in learning and memory, motor control, and possibly even maternal and social behavior. The review also discusses studies in both humans and animals that present suggestive though not definitive evidence of cognitive or behavioral consequences of vitamin D inadequacy.
Vitamin D is naturally present in only a few food items. There are food products such as milk and yogurt that are enriched with Vitamin D, and while our bodies can produce Vitamin D upon sun exposure, many still suffer from Vitamin D deficiency as the efficiency of Vitamin D production is also function of skin tone, making populations with darker skin tone at risk for rickets, bone fractures and possibly other diseases including several types of cancer due to a inadequate vitamin D.
Thus, experts conclude that Vitamin D supplementation is warranted for groups whose vitamin D status is exceptionally low, particularly nursing infants, the elderly, and African Americans.