Purpose of review: Vitamin D has received global attention because of its many health benefits. Although there is general agreement about the importance of vitamin D for bone health, there remains skepticism about the nonskeletal health benefits of vitamin D. This review will not only focus on the vitamin D deficiency pandemic and ways to treat and prevent vitamin D deficiency but will also explore the epigenetic mechanisms of vitamin D that could help explain many of the nonskeletal benefits of enhancing vitamin D status.
Recent findings: The Institute of Medicine and the Endocrine Society have made new recommendations for vitamin D intake to prevent vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D deficiency is defined as a 25-hydroxyvitamin D level below 20 ng/ml and vitamin D insufficiency is defined as 21–29 ng/ml. Recent observations have suggested that vitamin D can influence epigenetics which may help explain the nonskeletal health benefits that have been reported for vitamin D.
Summary: There is general agreement that vitamin D deficiency is a worldwide health problem. This is due in part to the lack of appreciation that sunlight is an important source of vitamin D. There is no downside to increasing vitamin D intake and recent observations suggesting that vitamin D influences epigenetics provide a new insight for the importance of vitamin D in utero in reducing risk of chronic diseases later in life.