Vitamin D and anemia: insights into an emerging association

Curr Opin Endocrinol Diabetes Obes. 2015 Dec;22(6):432-8. doi: 10.1097/MED.0000000000000199.


Purpose of review: The current review highlights recent findings in the emerging association between vitamin D and anemia through discussion of mechanistic studies, epidemiologic studies, and clinical trials.

Recent findings: Vitamin D has previously been found to be associated with anemia in various healthy and diseased populations. Recent studies indicate that the association may differ between race and ethnic groups and is likely specific to anemia of inflammation. The mechanism underlying this association involves the reduction of proinflammatory cytokines by vitamin D and the direct suppression of hepcidin mRNA transcription. There is also evidence that vitamin D may be protective against anemia by supporting erythropoiesis. Other calciotropic hormones including fibroblast growth factor 23, and parathyroid hormone have also been found to be associated with iron homeostasis and erythropoiesis.

Summary: Recent advances in our understanding of the association between vitamin D and anemia suggest that maintenance of sufficient vitamin D status may be important in preventing anemia, particularly in diseases characterized by inflammation. Early clinical trials have been promising, but further research is needed to define the efficacy of vitamin D as a future approach for the treatment of anemia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anemia / drug therapy*
  • Anemia / etiology
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / pharmacology
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Erythropoiesis / drug effects
  • Fibroblast Growth Factor-23
  • Fibroblast Growth Factors / physiology
  • Humans
  • Parathyroid Hormone / blood
  • Vitamin D / pharmacology
  • Vitamin D / therapeutic use*
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / complications
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / epidemiology


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Parathyroid Hormone
  • Vitamin D
  • Fibroblast Growth Factors
  • Fibroblast Growth Factor-23