Quantifying the vitamin D economy

Robert P. Heaney, Laura A.G. Armas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Vitamin D enters the body through multiple routes and in a variety of chemical forms. Utilization varies with input, demand, and genetics. Vitamin D and its metabolites are carried in the blood on a Gc protein that has three principal alleles with differing binding affinities and ethnic prevalences. Three major metabolites are produced, which act via two routes, endocrine and autocrine/paracrine, and in two compartments, extracellular and intracellular. Metabolic consumption is influenced by physiological controls, noxious stimuli, and tissue demand. When administered as a supplement, varying dosing schedules produce major differences in serum metabolite profiles. To understand vitamin D's role in human physiology, it is necessary both to identify the foregoing entities, mechanisms, and pathways and, specifically, to quantify them. This review was performed to delineate the principal entities and transitions involved in the vitamin D economy, summarize the status of present knowledge of the applicable rates and masses, draw inferences about functions that are implicit in these quantifications, and point out implications for the determination of adequacy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)51-67
Number of pages17
JournalNutrition Reviews
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015


  • 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D
  • 25-hydroxyvitamin D
  • Inflammation
  • Lactation
  • Obesity
  • Vitamin D

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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