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J Clin Orthop Trauma. 2019 Nov-Dec;10(6):1082-1093. doi: 10.1016/j.jcot.2019.07.004. Epub 2019 Jul 13.

Vitamin D for skeletal and non-skeletal health: What we should know.

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Department of Medicine, Section of Endocrinology, Nutrition, and Diabetes, Vitamin D, Skin and Bone Research Laboratory, Boston University Medical Center, Boston, MA, USA.
Department of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine Siriraj Hospital, Mahidol University, Bangkok, Thailand.


Vitamin D plays an essential role in regulating calcium and phosphate metabolism and maintaining a healthy mineralized skeleton. Humans obtain vitamin D from sunlight exposure, dietary foods and supplements. There are two forms of vitamin D: vitamin D3 and vitamin D2. Vitamin D3 is synthesized endogenously in the skin and found naturally in oily fish and cod liver oil. Vitamin D2 is synthesized from ergosterol and found in yeast and mushrooms. Once vitamin D enters the circulation it is converted by 25-hydroxylase in the liver to 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D], which is further converted by the 25-hydroxyvitamin D-1α-hydroxylase in the kidneys to the active form, 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D [1,25(OH)2D]. 1,25(OH)2D binds to its nuclear vitamin D receptor to exert its physiologic functions. These functions include: promotion of intestinal calcium and phosphate absorption, renal tubular calcium reabsorption, and calcium mobilization from bone. The Endocrine Society's Clinical Practice Guideline defines vitamin D deficiency, insufficiency, and sufficiency as serum concentrations of 25(OH)D of <20 ng/mL, 21-29 ng/mL, and 30-100 ng/mL, respectively. Vitamin D deficiency is a major global public health problem in all age groups. It is estimated that 1 billion people worldwide have vitamin D deficiency or insufficiency. This pandemic of vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency is attributed to a modern lifestyle and environmental factors that restrict sunlight exposure, which is essential for endogenous synthesis of vitamin D in the skin. Vitamin D deficiency is the most common cause of rickets and osteomalacia, and can exacerbate osteoporosis. It is also associated with chronic musculoskeletal pain, muscle weakness, and an increased risk of falling. In addition, several observational studies observed the association between robust levels of serum 25(OH)D in the range of 40-60 ng/mL with decreased mortality and risk of development of several types of chronic diseases. Therefore, vitamin D-deficient patients should be treated with vitamin D2 or vitamin D3 supplementation to achieve an optimal level of serum 25(OH)D. Screening of vitamin D deficiency by measuring serum 25(OH)D is recommended in individuals at risk such as patients with diseases affecting vitamin D metabolism and absorption, osteoporosis, and older adults with a history of falls or nontraumatic fracture. It is important to know if a laboratory assay measures total 25(OH)D or only 25(OH)D3. Using assays that measure only 25(OH)D3 could underestimate total levels of 25(OH)D and may mislead physicians who treat patients with vitamin D2 supplementation.


Vitamin D

[Available on 2020-11-01]

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