Role of vitamin D in the pathophysiology and treatment of type 2 diabetes

Curr Diabetes Rev. 2012 Jan;8(1):42-7. doi: 10.2174/157339912798829179.


The secosteroid vitamin D is best known for its role in calcium regulation and bone metabolism. Recently, however, an emerging body of evidence has suggested that vitamin D may have previously-unrecognized effects on a variety of physiologic processes, including those relating to glucose homeostasis. Indeed, vitamin D insufficiency has been linked with type 2 diabetes (T2DM). In this review, the potential association between vitamin D and T2DM will be evaluated from both a pathophysiologic and clinical perspective. We consider the biologic evidence in support of a mechanistic contribution of vitamin D insufficiency to insulin resistance and beta-cell dysfunction, the two main pathophysiologic defects underlying T2DM. We also evaluate the clinical data linking vitamin D with these metabolic defects and dysglycemia. Finally, interventional studies addressing the effect of vitamin D supplementation on glucose homeostasis are considered. At present, this evolving literature is marked by many conflicting results and methodologic limitations, such that definitive conclusion on the role of vitamin D in T2DM remains elusive. Nevertheless, in light of the widespread prevalence of both vitamin D insufficiency and T2DM, this potential relationship could hold enormous public health implications and hence demands further study to address its unresolved questions.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Calcium / blood
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / blood
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / drug therapy
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / epidemiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Homeostasis
  • Humans
  • Insulin Resistance*
  • Male
  • Public Health
  • Vitamin D / therapeutic use*
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / blood
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / drug therapy
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / epidemiology
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / physiopathology*
  • Vitamins / therapeutic use*


  • Vitamins
  • Vitamin D
  • Calcium