Low vitamin D status: definition, prevalence, consequences, and correction

Endocrinol Metab Clin North Am. 2010 Jun;39(2):287-301, table of contents. doi: 10.1016/j.ecl.2010.02.008.


Vitamin D is obtained from cutaneous production when 7-dehydrocholesterol is converted to vitamin D(3) (cholecalciferol) by ultraviolet B radiation or by oral intake of vitamin D(2) (ergocalciferol) and D(3). An individual's vitamin D status is best evaluated by measuring the circulating 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) concentration. Although controversy surrounds the definition of low vitamin D status, there is increasing agreement that the optimal circulating 25(OH)D level should be approximately 30 to 32 ng/mL or above. Using this definition, it has been estimated that approximately three-quarters of all adults in the United States have low levels. Low vitamin D status classically has skeletal consequences such as osteomalacia/rickets. More recently, associations between low vitamin D status and increased risk for various nonskeletal morbidities have been recognized; whether all of these associations are causally related to low vitamin D status remains to be determined. To achieve optimal vitamin D status, daily intakes of at least 1000 IU or more of vitamin D are required. The risk of toxicity with "high" amounts of vitamin D intake is low. Substantial between-individual variability exists in response to the same administered vitamin D dose. When to monitor 25(OH)D levels has received little attention. Supplementation with vitamin D(3) may be preferable to vitamin D(2).

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bone and Bones / metabolism
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Muscles / metabolism
  • Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Nutritional Requirements
  • Osteomalacia / diet therapy
  • Prevalence
  • Rickets / diet therapy
  • Ultraviolet Rays
  • Vitamin D / analogs & derivatives*
  • Vitamin D / blood
  • Vitamin D / metabolism
  • Vitamin D / therapeutic use
  • Vitamin D / toxicity
  • Vitamin D Deficiency* / blood
  • Vitamin D Deficiency* / diet therapy
  • Vitamin D Deficiency* / epidemiology
  • Vitamin D Deficiency* / metabolism


  • Vitamin D
  • 25-hydroxyvitamin D