Which circulating level of 25-hydroxyvitamin D is appropriate?

J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2004 May;89-90(1-5):611-4. doi: 10.1016/j.jsbmb.2004.03.040.


Moderate Vitamin D deficiency causes secondary hyperparathyroidism and bone loss, leading to osteoporosis and fractures. Controversy exists which circulating level of 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25OH)D is appropriate. The high incidence of hip fractures at northern latitudes suggest a relationship with Vitamin D deficiency. However, international studies show lower serum 25(OH)D levels in southern than in northern Europe. Serum 25(OH)D was not a risk factor for hip fractures in several epidemiological studies. The required serum 25(OH)D is usually established by assessing the point where serum parathyroid hormone (PTH) starts to rise. This point varied in several studies between 30 and 78 nmol/l. However, interlaboratory variation may also influence the apparent required serum 25(OH)D level. Dietary calcium intake influences serum PTH and serum PTH may influence the turnover of Vitamin D metabolites. A low calcium intake causes an increase of serum PTH and serum 1,25(OH)2D thereby decreasing the half life of serum 25(OH)D. While a low calcium intake may aggravate Vitamin D deficiency, a high calcium intake may have a Vitamin D sparing effect. With current knowledge, a global estimate for the appropriate serum 25(OH)D is 50 nmol/l.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Calcium / administration & dosage
  • Hip Fractures / epidemiology
  • Hip Fractures / etiology
  • Humans
  • Risk Factors
  • Vitamin D / analogs & derivatives*
  • Vitamin D / blood*
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / complications
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / epidemiology


  • Vitamin D
  • 25-hydroxyvitamin D
  • Calcium