Low serum vitamin D-status, air pollution and obesity: A dangerous liaison

Rev Endocr Metab Disord. 2017 Jun;18(2):207-214. doi: 10.1007/s11154-016-9388-6.


The aim of this review is to provide a general overview of the possible associations among the vitamin D status, air pollution and obesity. Sunlight exposure accounts in humans for more than 90 % of the production of vitamin D. Among emerging factors influencing sunlight-induced synthesis of vitamin D, prospective and observational studies proved that air pollution constitutes an independent risk factor in the pathogenesis of vitamin D hypovitaminosis. In addition, environmental pollutants can affect risk of obesity when inhaled, in combination with unhealthy diet and lifestyle. In turn, obesity is closely associated with a low vitamin D status and many possible mechanisms have been proposed to explain this association. The associations of air pollution with low vitamin D status on the hand and with obesity on the other hand, could provide a rationale for considering obesity as a further link between air pollution and low vitamin D status. In this respect, a vicious cycle could operate among low vitamin D status, air pollution, and obesity, with additive detrimental effects on cardio-metabolic risk in obese individuals. Besides vitamin D supplementation, nutrient combination, used to maximize the protective effects against air pollution, might also contribute to improve the vitamin D status by attenuating the "obesogen" effects of air pollution.

Keywords: Air pollution; Environmental factor; Nutritionist; Obesity; Vitamin D.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollution / adverse effects*
  • Air Pollution / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Nutritional Status / physiology*
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Obesity / etiology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Sunlight
  • Vitamin D / blood
  • Vitamin D / physiology
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / complications*
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / epidemiology


  • Vitamin D