Vitamin D is taken for granted and is not appreciated for its importance in overall health and well-being. Vitamin D, known as the sunshine vitamin, is appreciated as being important for the prevention of rickets in children. It is now recognized that vitamin D is important for not only the growing skeleton, but for the maintenance of a healthy musculoskeletal system throughout life. Vitamin D deficiency in adults precipitates and exacerbates osteoporosis and causes the painful bone disease osteomalacia. The revelation that vitamin D is biologically inactive and requires sequential hydroxylations in the liver and kidney to form 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D helps explain why patients with renal failure are often resistant to vitamin D and suffer from secondary hyperparathyroidism and renal osteodystrophy. In addition to its role in maintaining calcium and phosphorus homeostasis, vitamin D is now being recognized as important for maintaining maximum muscle strength and for the prevention of many chronic diseases, including type I diabetes, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, hypertension, cardiovascular heart disease, and many common cancers. Vitamin D status is best determined by the measurement of circulating levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D. Vigilance for maintaining a 25-hydroxyvitamin D level of at least 20 ng/ml and preferably 30-50 ng/ml has important benefits for both healthy children and adults, as well as children and adults suffering from chronic kidney disease.