Around half the world’s population are thought to have an insufficiency of this vitamin.
A triple dose of vitamin D3 supplementation in the first two years of life reduces the chance of mental health problems later on by around 50 percent, a high-quality experiment finds.
Infants who were given 30 µg of vitamin D daily, which is three times the recommended dose, were only half as likely to have internalising problems by age 6-8.
Internalising problems are those in which a person keeps their problems to themselves, including depression, anxiety, loneliness and withdrawal.
Dr Samuel Sandboge, the study’s first author, said:
“Our results suggest that a higher dose of vitamin D3 supplementation during the first years of life may reduce the risk of internalizing psychiatric symptoms in late preschool and early school age.”
Vitamin D and mental health
The randomised controlled trial, which was carried out in Finland, was inspired by the link found between low childhood vitamin D levels and mental health problems.
Almost 350 children were given either a dose of 10 µg or 30 µg of vitamin D from age 2 weeks until 2-years-old.
The results showed that at 6- to 8-years-old, almost 12 percent of children given 10 µg had significant internalising problems.
In the 30 µg group, though, this figure was under 6 percent.
No differences were seen in the number of externalising problems.
Externalising disorders include ADHD and conduct disorder.
Later in life externalising disorders include substance abuse, antisocial personality disorders and even psychopathy.
Dr Samuel Sandboge warned that the study has drawbacks:
“The results and their potential implications are interesting, but further research is needed to confirm the results.
In the interpretation of the results, we must note, among other things, that we studied the psychiatric symptoms only as parent-reported.
Furthermore, the participants of the study were children with Nordic ancestry living in Finland who had good levels of vitamin D.”
Around half the world’s population are thought to have an insufficiency of vitamin D, and 10 percent are deficient.
Vitamin D plays an important role in the development of the brain.
It is notable that a rise in autism and ADHD rates has happened at a time when there have been significant drops in average levels of vitamin D.
- A mother’s deficiency in vitamin D may contribute to the development of autism in her children.
- Zinc deficiency could be involved in the development of autism.
- Vitamin D activates a gene which produces an enzyme leading to higher levels of serotonin.
The study was published in JAMA Network Open (Sandboge et al., 2023).
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This site is all about scientific research into how the mind works.
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