The vitamin D receptor is expressed in multiple cells of the body (other than osteoblasts), including beta cells and cells involved in immune modulation (such as mononuclear cells, and activated T and B lymphocytes), and most organs in the body including the brain, heart, skin, gonads, prostate, breast, and gut. Consequently, the extra-skeletal impact of vitamin D deficiency has been an active area of research. While epidemiological and case-control studies have often suggested a link between vitamin D deficiency and conditions such as type 1 and type 2 diabetes, connective tissue disorders, inflammatory bowel disorders, chronic hepatitis, food allergies, asthma and respiratory infections, and cancer, interventional studies for the most part have failed to confirm a causative link. This review examines available evidence to date for the extra-skeletal effects of vitamin D deficiency, with a focus on randomized controlled trials and meta-analyses.
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