Ann Lab Med.  2014 May;34(3):181-186. 10.3343/alm.2014.34.3.181.

Vitamin D Activities for Health Outcomes

  • 1School of Pharmacy and Medical Sciences, University of South Australia, Chemical Pathology Directorate and Hanson Institute, SA Pathology, Adelaide, Australia.


Reports describing significant health risks due to inadequate vitamin D status continue to generate considerable interest amongst the medical and lay communities alike. Recent research on the various molecular activities of the vitamin D system, including the nuclear vitamin D receptor and other receptors for 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D and vitamin D metabolism, provides evidence that the vitamin D system carries out biological activities across a wide range of tissues similar to other nuclear receptor hormones. This knowledge provides physiological plausibility of the various health benefits claimed to be provided by vitamin D and supports the proposals for conducting clinical trials. The vitamin D system plays critical roles in the maintenance of plasma calcium and phosphate and bone mineral homeostasis. Recent evidence confirms that plasma calcium homeostasis is the critical factor modulating vitamin D activity. Vitamin D activities in the skeleton include stimulation or inhibition of bone resorption and inhibition or stimulation of bone formation. The three major bone cell types, which are osteoblasts, osteocytes and osteoclasts, can all respond to vitamin D via the classical nuclear vitamin D receptor and metabolize 25-hydroxyvitamin D to 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D to activate the vitamin D receptor and modulate gene expression. Dietary calcium intake interacts with vitamin D metabolism at both the renal and bone tissue levels to direct either a catabolic action on the bone through the endocrine system when calcium intake is inadequate or an anabolic action through a bone autocrine or paracrine system when calcium intake is sufficient.


Vitamin D; Metabolic bone diseases; Osteomalacia; Osteoporosis; Bone fractures; Calcium; Dietary; 25-hydroxyvitamin D

MeSH Terms

Fractures, Bone/metabolism/pathology
Protein Binding
Receptors, Calcitriol/genetics/metabolism
Vitamin D/analogs & derivatives/*metabolism
Receptors, Calcitriol
Vitamin D
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