Vitamin D in the aging musculoskeletal system: an authentic strength preserving hormone

Mol Aspects Med. 2005 Jun;26(3):203-19. doi: 10.1016/j.mam.2005.01.005.


Until recently, vitamin D was only considered as one of the calciotrophic hormones without major significance in other metabolic processes in the body. Several recent findings have demonstrated that vitamin D plays also a role as a factor for cell differentiation, function and survival. Two organs, muscle and bone, are significantly affected by the presence, or absence, of vitamin D. In bone, vitamin D stimulates bone turnover while protecting osteoblasts of dying by apoptosis whereas in muscle vitamin D maintains the function of type II fibers preserving muscle strength and preventing falls. Furthermore, two major changes associated to aging: osteoporosis and sarcopenia, have been also linked to the development of frailty in elderly patients. In both cases vitamin D plays an important role since the low levels of this vitamin seen in senior people may be associated to a deficit in bone formation and muscle function. In this review, the interaction between vitamin D and the musculoskeletal components of frailty are considered from the basic mechanisms to the potential therapeutic approach. We expect that these new considerations about the importance of vitamin D in the elderly will stimulate an innovative approach to the problem of falls and fractures which constitutes a significant burden to public health budgets worldwide.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Bone and Bones / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Musculoskeletal System / drug effects
  • Musculoskeletal System / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Calcitriol / metabolism
  • Vitamin D / metabolism*
  • Vitamin D / pharmacology


  • Receptors, Calcitriol
  • Vitamin D