Vitamin D

Vitamin D is an essential fat-soluble vitamin that is primarily responsible for maintaining normal serum concentrations of calcium and phosphate by increasing their absorption in the small intestine. This ensures proper bone mineralization and remodeling. Over the past decade, there has been growing interest and research regarding the role of vitamin D in non-skeletal health. This interest has been prompted by the finding of vitamin D receptors on a wide range of cell types in the human body and data from observational studies demonstrating associations between low vitamin D levels and increased risk for various adverse health outcomes outside of bone health. Because most of the vitamin D in the human body is typically synthesized endogenously by way of dermal exposure to ultraviolet light, living in far northern or southern latitudes is a known risk factor for vitamin D deficiency. As such, Alaska health care providers should be knowledgeable about vitamin D to educate their patients on the risk factors for deficiency and help them make informed decisions regarding vitamin D intake and supplementation.

Current studies indicate that special supplementation and/or screening recommendations may be warranted for certain Alaska populations due to the presence of risk factors such as limited sunlight exposure during the winter months, darker skin pigmentation, and changing dietary intake patterns. The Alaska Division of Public Health published an Epidemiology Bulletin in 2017 to provide a brief overview of vitamin D for Alaska health care providers. The document included a review of the sources of vitamin D, the roles of vitamin D in the body, the current screening and supplementation recommendations available from selected professional and governmental bodies, and the available Alaska-specific vitamin D research findings. Additional resources are available below to learn more about vitamin D, vitamin D deficiency in Alaska, and selected screening and supplementation recommendations. As new information becomes available this page will be updated.

Alaska Research

Overview of Vitamin D

Intake, Supplementation, and Screening Recommendations

Other Nutritional Recommendations