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Vitamin D – why your brain needs it

The link between vitamin D deficiency and cognitive disorders has been known for a long time, and new research by Australian scientists may have found the answer.

Researchers at the Queensland Brain Institute at the University of Queensland have shown that a lack of vitamin D affects a brain structure known as perineuronal nets, or PNN. This research could lead to preventive measures, or better treatments for conditions including depression and schizophrenia.

Perineuronal nets are made of proteins and sugars, and form a supportive mesh around certain brain cells, helping to stabilise the contacts between neurons. The researchers found that in mice with a vitamin D deficiency, there was a reduction in PNNs in the hippocampus, an area of the brain crucial for memory formation.

The hippocampus is also vital for our special awareness and perception of reality.

Previously, it was believed that PNNs were fixed by adulthood, so the discovery that they can be broken down is cause for optimism. Under the right conditions, it might be possible for new PNNs to form.


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