Does vitamin D protect against DNA damage?

Mutat Res. 2012 May 1;733(1-2):50-7. doi: 10.1016/j.mrfmmm.2012.02.005. Epub 2012 Feb 24.


Vitamin D is a secosteroid best known for its role in maintaining bone and muscle health. Adequate levels of vitamin D may also be beneficial in maintaining DNA integrity. This role of vitamin D can be divided into a primary function that prevents damage from DNA and a secondary function that regulates the growth rate of cells. The potential for vitamin D to reduce oxidative damage to DNA in a human has been suggested by clinical trial where vitamin D supplementation reduced 8-hydroxy-2'-deoxyguanosine, a marker of oxidative damage, in colorectal epithelial crypt cells. Studies in animal models and in different cell types have also shown marked reduction in oxidative stress damage and chromosomal aberrations, prevention of telomere shortening and inhibition of telomerase activity following treatment with vitamin D. The secondary function of vitamin D in preventing DNA damage includes regulation of the poly-ADP-ribose polymerase activity in the DNA damage response pathway involved in the detection of DNA lesions. It is also able to regulate the cell cycle to prevent the propagation of damaged DNA, and to regulate apoptosis to promote cell death. Vitamin D may contribute to prevention of human colorectal cancer, though there is little evidence to suggest that prevention of DNA damage mediates this effect, if real. Very limited human data mean that the intake of vitamin D required to minimise DNA damage remains uncertain.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Cell Cycle
  • Cells, Cultured
  • DNA Damage*
  • Humans
  • Nutritional Requirements
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects
  • Skin / radiation effects
  • Ultraviolet Rays / adverse effects
  • Vitamin D / pharmacology
  • Vitamin D / physiology*


  • Vitamin D