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Rocz Panstw Zakl Hig. 2014;65(3):179-84.

Health outcomes of vitamin D. Part I. characteristics and classic role.

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Chair of Dietetics, Department of Nutritional Physiology, Faculty of Human Nutrition and Consumer Sciences, Warsaw University of Life Sciences, Warsaw, Poland.


Vitamin D is a compound responsible for maintaining mineral homeostasis. It protects against calcium and phosphate deficiency through the effects on the intestine, kidney, parathyroid gland and bone. All mechanisms that help maintain mineral homeostasis of the body are regulated by the vitamin D hormonal form - calcitriol. Synthesis of vitamin D starts in the skin as a non-enzymatic process, which begins during exposure to sunlight, when the absorption of ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation results in convertion of 7-dehydrocholesterol, a metabolite of cholesterol that is stored in the skin, to precholecalciferol (previtamin-D₃) that is immediately converted into cholecalciferol (vitamin D₃). After the skin synthesis cholecalciferol is transported to the liver where it undergoes hydroxylation, what results in formation of calcidiol (25(OH)D₃). The second metabolic process takes place in the kidney, where calcidiol undergoes hydroxylation at the C-1 position to the hormonal, the most active metabolite - 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D (calcitriol). Vitamin D deficiency may result in bone diseases, such as rickets in children and osteomalacia and osteoporosis in adults. Symptoms of osteomalacia affect mainly the skeletal system and are similar to that observed in rickets. It concerns thoracic kyphosis, pelvis deformities and also the varus knee. Osteoporosis is another condition that is related to abnormalities of mineral homeostasis. It is characterized by the progressive loss of bone mass, impaired bone microarchitecture, and consequently increased fragility and susceptibility to fracture. For the last several years other, non-classic actions of vitamin D₃ have been discussed. It was engendered by the discovery of vitamin D3 receptor (VDR) in the most of body tissues and cells. Hence, there are many hypotheses which suggest the inverse relationship between vitamin D status and various diseases, such as cancer, autoimmune diseases, diabetes mellitus and others.

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