Experimental Biology and Medicine vol:235 issue:9 pages:1034-1045
Historically vitamin D is known to be essential for normal bone growth and quality, and thus appropriate dietary vitamin D supplementation can eliminate vitamin D deficiency childhood rickets and adult osteomalacia. In spite of many government and medical associations' worldwide guidelines for the reference daily intake (RDI) of vitamin D, scientists and nutritionists from many countries agree that at present about half of elderly North Americans and Western Europeans and probably also of the rest of the world are not receiving enough vitamin D to maintain healthy bone. In addition, over the past decade there has been a dramatic increase in our understanding of the many biological actions that result from vitamin D acting through its daughter steroid hormone, 1 alpha,25-dihydroxyvitamin D-3 [1 alpha,25(OH)(2)D-3] in collaboration with its cognate vitamin D receptor (VDR). Consequently, evidence has accumulated that beside intestine and bone, there are five additional physiological systems where the VDR with 1 alpha,25(OH)(2)D generates biological responses. These include the immune system (both the innate and adaptive), pancreas and metabolic homeostasis, heart-cardiovascular, muscle and brain systems as well as the control of the cell cycle, and thus of the disease process of cancer. Acting through the VDR, 1 alpha,25(OH)(2)D-3 can produce a wide array of favorable biological effects that collectively are projected to contribute to the improvement of human health. Responsible medicine demands that worldwide vitamin D nutritional guidelines reflect current scientific knowledge about vitamin D's spectrum of activities. Thus, worldwide vitamin D nutritional policy is now at a crossroads. This paper presents several proposed policy changes with regard to the amount of vitamin D daily intake that if implemented will maximize vitamin D's contribution to reducing the frequency of many diseases, which would then increase the quality and longevity of life and significantly reduce the cost of medical care worldwide.