Low Vitamin D and Schizophrenia

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In recent years, researchers have suggested that vitamin D deficiency is one of the most prevalent conditions affecting Americans today. At the same time, evidence is accumulating tying low levels of vitamin D in utero to the emergence of schizophrenia later in the individuals life.

Numerous risk factors for schizophrenia have been identified over the last few decades, and--while not the greatest factor in play--the time of year that a child is born has a small but significantly effect on the chances of that child developing schizophrenia. Specifically, children born in winter or spring are at higher risk. This has led some researchers to investigate the role of vitamin D during certain formative periods of fetal development, since decreased sun exposure by a mother in winter and early spring can lead to vitamin D deficiency.

Further strengthening the connection between low vitamin D and schizophrenia is the observation that children (of whatever ethnic background) born at higher latitudes are more likely to develop schizophrenia. Once again, because direct sun exposure is more limited in these areas, vitamin D deficiencies are more common.

In the most extreme cases of deficiency, individuals were found to be twice as likely to develop schizophrenia as those with the optimal level of vitamin D. Because schizophrenia is currently incurable, preventative medicine is the best option. Studies that show the link between low vitamin d and schizophrenia--while being read in the context of broader scientific research--should nevertheless form an important part of any nutritional or supplemental recommendations for pregnant women.

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