Low In-Utero Vitamin D Levels May Predispose to Schizophrenia

New Study: Low In-Utero Vitamin D Levels
May Predispose to Schizophrenia
And a Host of Other Disorders

Common Advice:
“Avoid the Sun” May Be Bad Advice,
Indeed, If You Don’t Want Your Child to
Become Schizophrenic

Winter births have been known to be associated with an increase of schizophrenia in the babies born then. The reason has been unclear. Now, a new study suggests that the low levels of vitamin D in mothers during winter months might be the answer. Latitude and migration are also linked to increased rates of the disorder, which affects about 1% of the population.

Mathew Chiang; Radhika Natarajan; Xiaoduo Fan have published a new study[1] that also ties a group of other conditions commonly seen in schizophrenic patients as well, to the deficiency including obesity, insulin resistance, diabetes, hyperlipidemia and cardiovascular disease.

Vitamin D, its receptors and related enzymes (CYP 27B1, CYP 24A1) are found in various regions of the brain leading researchers to establish Vitamin D as a neuroactive/neurosteroid hormone critical to brain development and normal brain function.[2]

In fact, it is so important to brain function that research is currently being conducted on its potential role in the treatment of depression and other mental illnesses. Natural health advocates have long noted and taught that being outside in the sun, despite the temperature, is a health, and mental health, inducing life style choice. Sunscreen, of course, reduced the amount of Vitamin D which the body can produce significantly.

The authors point out, “Vitamin D, the ‘sunshine’ vitamin, is widely known for its essential role in calcium absorption and bone health.In mammals it is created in the skin when it is exposed to UVB light, which causes the conversion of 7-dehydrocholesterol to pre vitamin D3 in the skin, which is then quickly converted into vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) by the body.

The widely available test for 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] is widely used to measure Vitamin D levels which can be manufactured and/or ingested from dietary sources like fatty fish, fungus and eggs or taken as a dietary supplement. Many countries fortify cereal, milk and other everyday foods with Vitamin D.

Despite its ease of access, however, Vitamin D deficiency is regarded as a global pandemic.

Long known for its benefits on bone health and related diseases, research in the past decade has revealed its widespread effects on many other aspects of the human body including various cancers, autoimmune diseases, cardiovascular diseases, infectious diseases and mental disorders.

While all patients with psychiatric illnesses are likely to be low in Vitamin D, schizophrenic patients are more likely than other psychiatric patients to be low in vitamin D, and, indeed, more likely to be lower in it than other psychiatric patients who are low in the nutrient.

When a group of 33,000 women from the general Swedish population supplemented with Vitamin D during their pregnancies, the rate of schizophrenia in their children dropped dramatically.

Critics of the ozone layer/melanoma hypothesis, by the way, have pointed out that more than half of all malignant melanomas occur in areas which are never exposed to the sun and decry the lack of vitamin D that constant sun-screen and sun-protective clothing bring about.

Rima E. Laibow, MD

[1] Chiang, M, et. Al, Evid Based Ment Health. 2016;19(1):6-9. © 2016  BMJ Publishing Group Ltd, the British Psychological Society and the Royal College of Psychiatrists

[2] https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/858032_1

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