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Vitamin D: the underappreciated D-lightful hormone that is important for skeletal and cellular health

Holick, Michael F. PhD, MD

Current Opinion in Endocrinology & Diabetes: February 2002 - Volume 9 - Issue 1 - p 87-98
Multihormonal systems disorders

Vitamin D deficiency is more common than realized. It is making a resurgence in neonates and is common in black patients and older adults. Vitamin D deficiency not only causes generalized muscle weakness, muscle aches, and bone aches and pains but also can precipitate and exacerbate osteoporosis and cause osteomalacia. Although the kidney plays a critical role in producing 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D, which is important for regulating calcium, phosphorus, and bone metabolism, it is now recognized that a wide variety of other tissues have the enzymatic machinery to produce 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D. Vitamin D receptors are common in most tissues in the body, and the new revelation that many tissues produce 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D suggests a new important role for this hormone in helping to maintain good health throughout life.

Vitamin D, Skin and Bone Research Laboratory; Section of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Nutrition; Departments of Medicine, Dermatology and Biophysics and Physiology; Boston University Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.

Correspondence to Michael F. Holick, Ph.D., M.D., Boston University School of Medicine 715 Albany Street, Boston, MA 02118, USA; e-mail:

© 2002 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.