Catch the rays

Lack of vitamin D after conception may lead to neurological problems

source: Rachel Nowack
New Scientist February 9 2002 p7

Lack of vitamin D after conception may lead to neurological problems, according to a researcher from Queensland Centre for Schizophrenia Research, Wacol, John McGrath. He studied rats which were fed diets lacking in vitamin D after they were conceived. When they became adult, these rats were more startled by loud noises following soft noises, compared with normal rats. Baby rats on vitamin D-deficient diets also have bigger ventricles in their brains than normal, a characteristic often noted in humans suffering from schizophrenia. Many genes in the brains of vitamin D deprived rats were also found to be less active.

McGrath had embarked on this research after noting that people with schizophrenia in North America and Europe were disproportionately likely to have birthdays in springtime, and so have spent much of their time in the womb during winter. Sunlight is important for the manufacture of vitamin D in the body. Further research is needed before women should consider taking supplements of vitamin D, which can lead to birth defects if taken in excess.