Sun exposure is the main source of vitamin D. Due to many lifestyle risk factors vitamin D deficiency/insufficiency is becoming a worldwide health problem. Low 25(OH)D concentration is associated with adverse musculoskeletal and non-musculoskeletal health outcomes. Vitamin D supplementation is currently the best approach to treat deficiency and to maintain adequacy. In response to a given dose of vitamin D, the effect on 25(OH)D concentration differs between individuals, and it is imperative that factors affecting this response be identified. For this review, a comprehensive literature search was conducted to identify those factors and to explore their significance in relation to circulating 25(OH)D response to vitamin D supplementation. The effect of several demographic/biological factors such as baseline 25(OH)D, aging, body mass index(BMI)/body fat percentage, ethnicity, calcium intake, genetics, oestrogen use, dietary fat content and composition, and some diseases and medications has been addressed. Furthermore, strategies employed by researchers or health care providers (type, dose and duration of vitamin D supplementation) and environment (season) are other contributing factors. With the exception of baseline 25(OH)D, BMI/body fat percentage, dose and type of vitamin D, the relative importance of other factors and the mechanisms by which these factors may affect the response remains to be determined.
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