Vitamin D insufficiency affects almost 50% of the population worldwide. An estimated 1 billion people worldwide, across all ethnicities and age groups, have a vitamin D deficiency (VDD). This pandemic of hypovitaminosis D can mainly be attributed to lifestyle (for example, reduced outdoor activities) and environmental (for example, air pollution) factors that reduce exposure to sunlight, which is required for ultraviolet-B (UVB)-induced vitamin D production in the skin. High prevalence of vitamin D insufficiency is a particularly important public health issue because hypovitaminosis D is an independent risk factor for total mortality in the general population. Current studies suggest that we may need more vitamin D than presently recommended to prevent chronic disease. As the number of people with VDD continues to increase, the importance of this hormone in overall health and the prevention of chronic diseases are at the forefront of research. VDD is very common in all age groups. As few foods contain vitamin D, guidelines recommended supplementation at suggested daily intake and tolerable upper limit levels. It is also suggested to measure the serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D level as the initial diagnostic test in patients at risk for deficiency. Treatment with either vitamin D2 or vitamin D3 is recommended for deficient patients. A meta-analysis published in 2007 showed that vitamin D supplementation was associated with significantly reduced mortality. In this review, we will summarize the mechanisms that are presumed to underlie the relationship between vitamin D and understand its biology and clinical implications.
Keywords: Cancer; fat soluble vitamin; hypertension; obesity; vitamin D analogs.