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Eat Weight Disord. 2017 Mar;22(1):27-41. doi: 10.1007/s40519-016-0312-6. Epub 2016 Aug 23.

Vitamin D: not just the bone. Evidence for beneficial pleiotropic extraskeletal effects.

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Laboratory of Cardiovascular Endocrinology, IRCCS San Raffaele Pisana, via di Val Cannuta 247, 00166, Rome, Italy.
Department of Human Sciences and Promotion of the Quality of Life, San Raffaele Roma Open University, Rome, Italy.
Unit of Endocrinology and Metabolic Diseases, Department of Systems Medicine, CTO A. Alesini Hospital, ASL Roma 2, University Tor Vergata, Rome, Italy.
Laboratory of Cardiovascular Endocrinology, IRCCS San Raffaele Pisana, via di Val Cannuta 247, 00166, Rome, Italy.


Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin and a steroid hormone that plays a central role in maintaining calcium-phosphorus and bone homeostasis in close interaction with parathyroid hormone, acting on its classical target tissues, namely, bone, kidney, intestine, and parathyroid glands. However, vitamin D endocrine system regulates several genes (about 3 % of the human genome) involved in cell differentiation, cell-cycle control, and cell function and exerts noncalcemic/pleiotropic effects on extraskeletal target tissues, such as immune and cardiovascular system, pancreatic endocrine cells, muscle, and adipose tissue. Several studies have demonstrated the role of vitamin D supplementation in the prevention/treatment of various autoimmune diseases and improvement of glucose metabolism, muscle, and adipose tissue function. Hence, this review aims to elucidate the effects of vitamin D on extraskeletal target tissues and to investigate the potential therapeutic benefit of vitamin D supplementation among a broad group of pathological conditions, especially with regard to metabolic and autoimmune diseases. In addition, we focused on the best daily intakes and serum levels of vitamin D required for extraskeletal benefits which, even if still controversial, appear to be higher than those widely accepted for skeletal effects.


Adipose tissue; Anorexia nervosa; Autoimmune diseases; Diabetes; Eating disorders; Glucose metabolism; Hashimoto thyroiditis; Multiple sclerosis; Obesity; Skeletal muscle

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