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Dopamine is a neurotransmitter best known for its role in motor, motivation, and pleasure control. A new study highlights vitamin D’s influence on dopamine signaling and emphasizes its essential role in the normal development of dopamine-producing cells.

Researchers developed three cell lines to mimic the natural process of embryonic development, during which cells differentiate (specialize) into dopamine-producing neurons. Then they cultured the cells in the presence or absence of vitamin D.

They found that vitamin D participated in neuronal growth and branching, the rearrangement of presynaptic proteins, and the production and release of dopamine. The researchers posited that glial-derived growth factor, a vitamin D-dependent factor that promotes dopamine neuron differentiation, was the mechanism driving these effects.

These findings suggest that vitamin D plays multiple roles in dopamine signaling, with potential implications for neurodevelopmental disorders like schizophrenia, ADHD, and autism. They also underscore the importance of adequate maternal vitamin D status during pregnancy.

Interestingly, vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids may synergistically work to support neurodevelopment further. Read this open-access peer-reviewed article by Dr. Rhonda Patrick to learn more.

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