Role of vitamin D in calcium homeostasis and its use in prevention of bovine periparturient paresis

Acta Vet Scand Suppl. 2003;97:35-50.


Calcium (Ca) is essential for life in higher animals. It is involved in the normal functioning of a wide variety of tissues and physiologic processes which include bone formation, muscle contraction, nerve transmission, blood clotting and as a second messenger regulating the actions of many hormones. In order for these functions to be carried out properly, blood Ca concentrations must be monitored and regulated within strict limitations. The discovery of the vitamin D endocrine system has resulted in the realization that Ca regulation in mammals and birds involves a coordinated effort between the hormones parathyroid hormone (PTH), calcitonin and the hormonally-active form of vitamin D3, 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 [1,25(OH)2D3]. Failure of this system to maintain normal blood Ca concentrations at parturition is a common occurrence in ruminants leading to clinical (periparturient paresis, milk fever) and subclinical hypocalcemia. Vitamin D sterols have played a significant role in efforts to avoid parturient hypocalcemia and this report will summarize advantages and disadvantages associated with their use.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calcium / blood*
  • Cattle
  • Cattle Diseases / blood
  • Cattle Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Female
  • Homeostasis
  • Parturient Paresis / blood
  • Parturient Paresis / prevention & control*
  • Pregnancy
  • Vitamin D / pharmacology
  • Vitamin D / therapeutic use*


  • Vitamin D
  • Calcium