Clinical disorder, including Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and depression share the common attribute of a low level of brain serotonin.
“In this paper we explain how serotonin is a critical modulator of executive function, impulse control, sensory gating, and pro-social behaviour,” said Rhonda Patrick from Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute (CHORI). “We link serotonin production and function to vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids, suggesting one way these important micro-nutrients help the brain function and affect the way we behave.”
In a previous study, researchers found that vitamin D regulates the conversion of the essential amino acid tryptophan into serotonin and this may influence the development of autism, particularly in developing children with poor vitamin D status.
Serotonin affects a wide-range of cognitive functions and behaviors including mood, decision-making, social behavior, impulsive behavior, and even plays a role in social decision-making by keeping in check aggressive social responses or impulsive behavior. Vitamin D is mostly produced by the skin when exposed to sun, and those who do not eat enough fish are likely to have marine omega-3 deficiencies.
The study explains that low vitamin D and marine omega-3 deficiencies interact with genetic pathways, such as the serotonin pathway, that are important for brain development, social cognition and decision-making, the researchers added.