Chevy Chase, MDThe Endocrine Society's new scientific statement published online today represents the first comprehensive evaluation of both the basic and clinical evidence related to the non-skeletal effects of vitamin D. The statement addresses current research regarding the associations of vitamin D with immune function, hypertension, stroke, skin conditions and maternal/fetal health.
Vitamin D is a steroid hormone that regulates calcium and phosphate levels in the bloodstream and promotes healthy bone growth. Vitamin D deficiency is common throughout the world and results in abnormalities of calcium, phosphorus and bone metabolism which can lead to muscle weakness, osteomalacia, osteopenia and osteoporosis. While some observational studies have shown that benefits of vitamin D may extend beyond bone health, research findings remain inconsistent.
"The role of vitamin D supplementation in the prevention and treatment of chronic non-skeletal diseases remains to be determined," says Clifford Rosen, MD, of Tufts University School of Medicine and chair of the task force that authored the statement. "We need large randomized controlled trials and dose-response data to test the effects of vitamin D on chronic disease outcomes including autoimmunity, obesity, diabetes, hypertension and heart disease."
The scientific statement outlines the evidence that defines the effects of vitamin D on epidermal, neuromuscular, maternal/fetal and neoplastic (abnormal growth) tissues. The authors critically evaluated the literature for each organ system utilizing available evidence from observational studies and randomized trials to determine the strength of associations between vitamin D and tissue-specific outcomes.
Conclusions from the statement include:
The article, "The Nonskeletal Effects of Vitamin D: An Endocrine Society Scientific Statement," appears in the June 2012 issue of The Endocrine Society's Endocrine Reviews.
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The Endocrine Society