Vitamin D: Important for Prevention of Osteoporosis, Cardiovascular Heart Disease, Type 1 Diabetes, Autoimmune Diseases, and Some Cancers

Michael F. Holick, MD, PHD


South Med J. 2005;98(10):1024-1027. 

In This Article

Other Consequences of Chronic Vitamin D Deficiency

Essentially every tissue and cell in the body has a VDR, including brain, heart, stomach, pancreas, skin and gonads, and immune cells.[1,5,13] 1,25(OH)2D3 is one of the most potent inhibitors of both normal and cancer cell growth.[14,15] 1,25(OH)2D also regulates both activated T- and B-cell function.[1,5,16,17] The pancreas responds to 1,25(OH)2D by enhancing insulin production.[1,5] The kidney is not only the organ for the synthesis of 1,25(OH)2D but also responds to it by decreasing the production of renin.[18]

The wide-ranging actions of 1,25(OH)2D help explain why vitamin D deficiency has been associated with several chronic diseases. It is known that vitamin D deficiency and living at higher latitudes increases the risk of development of colon, breast, prostate, ovarian, and esophageal cancer.[11,12,13,14,15,16,17,18,19,20,21] Children in Finland who received 2,000 IU of vitamin D per day from 1 year of age and followed as adults had a reduced risk of developing type 1 diabetes by 80%.[22] Children who had rickets and were followed had a fourfold increased risk of development of type 1 diabetes. It is also known that people living at higher latitudes are at higher risk of hypertension.[23] A study of hypertensive patients who received ultraviolet B irradiation from a tanning bed for 3 months not only increased their blood level of 25(OH)D by more than 100% but also completely resolved their hypertension.[24] There is evidence that there is increased risk of development of congestive heart failure with vitamin D deficiency.[25] It is also known that people living at higher latitudes are at higher risk of development of schizophrenia and multiple sclerosis later in life.[26,27] These diseases as well as rheumatoid arthritis have also been related to vitamin D deficiency.


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