The link between obesity and low circulating 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentrations: considerations and implications

Int J Obes (Lond). 2012 Mar;36(3):387-96. doi: 10.1038/ijo.2011.119. Epub 2011 Jun 21.


Obesity and vitamin D deficiency have both been recognized as major public health issues worldwide, and there is growing evidence that they are related, although the cause-effect relationship remains unclear. Could obesity be contributing to low circulating 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentrations? Alternatively, could low vitamin D status predispose to obesity? In this review, the relationship between low circulating 25-hydroxyvitamin D and obesity, and possible underlying reasons from both perspectives, is presented. One potential mechanism by which obesity could contribute to low serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D is adipose sequestration of vitamin D. On the other hand, adipose tissue has both the vitamin D receptor and the ability to synthesize 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D, and there is evidence that vitamin D may regulate adipose tissue mass, differentiation and metabolism in ways that might contribute to obesity. Of particular interest, vitamin D deficiency is common both before and after bariatric surgery, and is often difficult to treat, particularly with the more malabsorptive procedures. Additional research is needed to elucidate the complex and multifaceted factors underlying the association between low circulating 25-hydroxyvitamin D and obesity, and to identify optimal treatment approaches in obese individuals and in bariatric surgical patients both before and after surgery.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bariatric Surgery / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Obesity, Morbid / blood*
  • Obesity, Morbid / complications
  • Obesity, Morbid / etiology
  • Obesity, Morbid / surgery
  • Public Health
  • Vitamin D / analogs & derivatives*
  • Vitamin D / blood
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / blood*
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / complications
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / etiology


  • Vitamin D
  • 25-hydroxyvitamin D