Vitamin D is a key hormone in the regulation of calcium and phosphorus metabolism and plays a pivotal role in bone health, particularly during pediatric age when nutritional rickets and impaired bone mass acquisition may occur. Great interest has been placed in recent years on vitamin D's extraskeletal actions. However, while recent data suggest a possible role of vitamin D in the pathogenesis of several pathological conditions, including infectious and autoimmune diseases, the actual impact of vitamin D status on the global health of children and adolescents, other than bone, remains a subject of debate. In the meantime, pediatricians still need to evaluate the determinants of vitamin D status and consider vitamin D supplementation in children and adolescents at risk of deficiency. This review is the result of an expert meeting that was held during the congress "Update on vitamin D and bone disease in childhood" convened in Pisa, Italy, in May 2013.
Conclusion: The collaboration of the international group of experts produced this "state of the art" review on vitamin D in childhood and adolescence. After dealing with vitamin D status and its determinants, the review outlines the current debate on vitamin D's health benefits, concluding with a practical approach to vitamin D supplementation during childhood and adolescence.
What is known: • Vitamin D deficiency is a worldwide health problem. • Vitamin D deficiency affects not only musculoskeletal health but also a potentially wide range of acute and chronic diseases. What is New: • We reviewed the literature focusing on randomized controlled trials of vitamin D supplementation during childhood and adolescence. • This review will help pediatricians to appreciate the clinical relevance of an adequate vitamin D status and it will provide a practical approach to vitamin D supplementation.