Osteoporosis is characterized by low bone mass and microarchitecture deterioration of bone tissue, leading to enhanced bone fragility and consequent increase in fracture risk. Evidence is accumulating for an important role of calcium deficiency as the process of aging is associated with disturbed calcium balance. Vitamin D is the principal factor that maintains calcium homeostasis. Increasing evidence indicates that the reason for disturbed calcium balance with age is inadequate vitamin D levels in the elderly. In this article, an overview of our current understanding of vitamin D, its metabolism, and mechanisms involved in vitamin D-mediated maintenance of calcium homeostasis is presented. In addition, mechanisms involved in age-related dysregulation of 1,25(OH)2D3 action, recommended daily doses of vitamin D and calcium, and the use of vitamin D analogs for the treatment of osteoporosis (which remains controversial) are reviewed. Elucidation of the molecular pathways of vitamin D action and modifications that occur with aging will be an active area of future research that has the potential to reveal new therapeutic strategies to maintain calcium balance.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism