Why "Vitamin D" is not a hormone, and not a synonym for 1,25-dihydroxy-vitamin D, its analogs or deltanoids

J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2004 May;89-90(1-5):571-3. doi: 10.1016/j.jsbmb.2004.03.037.


Official nutrition committee reports in both North America and Europe now state that Vitamin D is more of a hormone than a nutrient. These statements are wrong, and do not reflect the definitions of either vitamin or hormone. Researchers often compound the problem by referring to calcitriol or other deltanoids as "Vitamin D". These things have serious consequences: (1) The literature is burdened by an ongoing confusion that presumes that the reader will somehow "know" what the writer refers to by "Vitamin D". (2) Medical practitioners not familiar with the ambiguities administer Vitamin D inappropriately when calcitriol or a deltanoid analog would be correct, or vice versa. (3) Attempts to promote Vitamin D nutrition are hindered by alarmist responses justifiably associated with the widespread administration of any hormone. Vitamin D is a vitamin in the truest sense of the word, because "insufficient amounts in the diet may cause deficiency diseases". The term, prohormone, is not relevant to the Vitamin D system, but 25-hydroxy-Vitamin D (calcidiol) is appropriately described as a prehormone, i.e. a glandular secretory product, having little or no inherent biologic potency, that is converted peripherally to an active hormone.

MeSH terms

  • Terminology as Topic*
  • Vitamin D / analogs & derivatives*
  • Vitamin D / physiology*


  • Vitamin D
  • 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D