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.
Vitamin D; Osteoporosis; Sunlight; Parathyroid hormone; Bone density