Review Article

Vitamin D: Important for Prevention of Osteoporosis, Cardiovascular Heart Disease, Type 1 Diabetes, Autoimmune Diseases, and Some Cancers

Authors: Michael F. Holick, MD, PHD


Vitamin D is very important for overall health and well-being. A major source of vitamin D comes from exposure to sunlight. Measurement of 25-hydroxyvitamin D in the blood and not 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D is used to determine vitamin D status. A blood level of 25-hydroxyvitamin D of at least 20 ng/mL is considered to be vitamin D sufficient. Vitamin D deficiency increases the risk of many common cancers, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, hypertension, cardiovascular heart disease, and type I diabetes.

Key Points

* Ninety percent or more of our vitamin D requirement comes from exposure to sunlight. Without sun exposure, 1,000 IU of vitamin D per day is required.

* 25-hydroxyvitamin D is the major circulating form that is used to determine vitamin D status.

* 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin controls cell growth, regulates renin production, and modulates immune function.

* Season, latitude, sunscreen use, skin pigmentation, and aging can markedly affect vitamin D synthesis in the skin.

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