Vitamin D and Bone Health; Potential Mechanisms

Eamon Laird, Mary Ward, E. M. Duffy, JJ STRAIN, Julie Wallace

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

166 Citations (Scopus)
25 Downloads (Pure)


Osteoporosis is associated with increased morbidity, mortality and significant economic and health costs. Vitamin D is a secosteriod hormone essential for calcium absorption and bone mineralization which is positively associated with bone mineral density [BMD]. It is well-established that prolonged and severe vitamin D deficiency leads to rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults. Sub-optimal vitamin D status has been reported in many populations but it is a particular concern in older people; thus there is clearly a need for effective strategies to optimise bone health. A number of recent studies have suggested that the role of vitamin D in preventing fractures may be via its mediating effects on muscle function (a defect in muscle function is one of the classical signs of rickets) and inflammation. Studies have demonstrated that vitamin D supplementation can improve muscle strength which in turn contributes to a decrease in incidence of falls, one of the largest contributors to fracture incidence. Osteoporosis is often considered to be an inflammatory condition and pro-inflammatory cytokines have been associated with increased bone metabolism. The immunoregulatory mechanisms of vitamin D may thus modulate the effect of these cytokines on bone health and subsequent fracture risk. Vitamin D, therefore, may influence fracture risk via a number of different mechanisms.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)693-724
Number of pages32
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 5 Jul 2010


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