1 Arquivos Brasileiros de Endocrinologia & Metabologia 2006 Vol: 50(4):. DOI: 10.1590/S0004-27302006000400009

Vitamin D deficiency: a global perspective

Vitamin D is essential for the maintenance of good health. Its sources can be skin production and diet intake. Most humans depend on sunlight exposure (UVB 290­315 nm) to satisfy their requirements for vitamin D. Solar ultraviolet B photons are absorbed by the skin, leading to transformation of 7-dehydrocholesterol into vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol). Season, latitude, time of day, skin pigmentation, aging, sunscreen use, all influence the cutaneous production of vitamin D3. Vitamin D deficiency not only causes rickets among children but also precipitates and exacerbates osteoporosis among adults and causes the painful bone disease osteomalacia. Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with increased risk for other morbidities such as cardiovascular disease, type 1 and type 2 diabetes mellitus and cancer, especially of the colon and prostate. The prevalence of hypovitaminosis D is considerable even in low latitudes and should be taken into account in the evaluation of postmenopausal and male osteoporosis. Although severe vitamin D deficiency leading to rickets or osteomalacia is rare in Brazil, there is accumulating evidence of the frequent occurrence of subclinical vitamin D deficiency, especially in elderly people. 

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