Endocrinol Metab.  2012 Dec;27(4):255-267. 10.3803/EnM.2012.27.4.255.

Vitamin D: A D-Lightful Vitamin for Health

  • 1Vitamin D, Skin and Bone Research Laboratory, Section of Endocrinology, Department of Medicine, Nutrition and Diabetes, Boston University Medical Center, Boston, MA, USA. mfholick@bu.edu


Vitamin D is a sunshine vitamin that has been produced on this earth for more than 500 million years. Because foods contain so little vitamin D most humans have always depended on sun exposure for their vitamin D requirement. Vitamin D deficiency has been defined as a serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentration < 20 ng/mL (50 nmol/L); vitamin D insufficiency as a serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D of 21-29 ng/mL and vitamin D sufficiency as a serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D of 30-100 ng/mL whereas toxicity is usually not seen until blood levels are above 150 ng/mL. Vitamin D deficiency is a global health problem that increases risk for metabolic bone diseases in children and adults as well as many chronic illnesses including autoimmune diseases, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, infectious disease, and cancer. The major causes of vitamin D deficiency are lack of adequate sensible exposure to sunlight, inadequate dietary intake and obesity. The United States Endocrine Society recommended that to prevent vitamin D deficiency in those at risk, children 1 year and older require 600-1,000 international unit (IU) of vitamin D daily and adults require 1,500-2,000 IU of vitamin D daily. Obese patients require 2-3 times more vitamin D to both treat and prevent vitamin D deficiency.


25-hydroxyvitamin D; Autoimmune diseases; Communicable diseases; Neoplasms; Osteomalacia; Sunlight; Type 2 diabetes mellitus; Vitamin D; Vitamin D deficiency

MeSH Terms

Autoimmune Diseases
Bone Diseases, Metabolic
Cardiovascular Diseases
Chronic Disease
Communicable Diseases
Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2
Solar System
United States
Vitamin D
Vitamin D Deficiency
Vitamin D
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