In recent years, vitamin D has been received increased attention due to the resurgence of vitamin D deficiency and rickets in developed countries and the identification of extraskeletal effects of vitamin D, suggesting unexpected benefits of vitamin D in health and disease, beyond bone health. The possibility of extraskeletal effects of vitamin D was first noted with the discovery of the vitamin D receptor (VDR) in tissues and cells that are not involved in maintaining mineral homeostasis and bone health, including skin, placenta, pancreas, breast, prostate and colon cancer cells, and activated T cells. However, the biological significance of the expression of the VDR in different tissues is not fully understood, and the role of vitamin D in extraskeletal health has been a matter of debate. This report summarizes recent research on the roles for vitamin D in cancer, immunity and autoimmune diseases, cardiovascular and respiratory health, pregnancy, obesity, erythropoiesis, diabetes, muscle function, and aging.
© 2013 New York Academy of Sciences.