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Endocr Pract. 2009 Sep-Oct;15(6):590-6. doi: 10.4158/EP09115.RA.

Is vitamin D the fountain of youth?

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  • 1University of Wisconsin Osteoporosis Research, 2870 University Avenue, Suite 100, Madison, WI 53705, USA.



To review the role of vitamin D deficiency for both classic and "nonclassic" effects and raise the caution that association does not prove causation.


The pertinent literature regarding vitamin D and its effects on bone, muscle function, immune function, glucose tolerance, cancer risk, and development of cardiovascular disease and other conditions is reviewed. In addition, the limitations of observational studies are discussed.


Vitamin D inadequacy is common worldwide and classically causes osteomalacia and rickets. More recently, the contribution of low vitamin D status to increased falls and fracture risk has become appreciated. Additionally, nonclassic effects of vitamin D inadequacy are being recognized, and low vitamin D status is being potentially associated with a multitude of conditions (including Alzheimer disease, osteoarthritis, multiple sclerosis, and hypertension) and higher overall mortality. It is important to recognize that associations in observational studies can be due to chance, bias, or confounders or may be indicative of causality.


Because vitamin D deficiency has been established to have adverse musculoskeletal consequences, optimization of vitamin D status, for both the individual patient and the overall population, is indicated.

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