There has been an important shift in the views about the actions of vitamin D during the past decade. In addition to its well-established role in the regulation of calcium metabolism, vitamin D deficiency has been associated with the risk of several extra-skeletal diseases, including type 1 diabetes among other chronic conditions. It is notable that 1,25(OH)2D is known to regulate the expression of over 200 different genes, including the ones related to apoptosis and immune modulation. Increased vitamin D intake is currently considered as one of the most promising candidates for the prevention of type 1 diabetes, and it has been suggested that changes in vitamin D intake during the past decades have contributed to the recent trends in the incidence of the disease. This study reviews the evidence for the role of vitamin D in type 1 diabetes development, demonstrating that support has been obtained from various lines of investigation and that the possible biological mechanisms are plausible. However, much of the evidence has been obtained from animal experiments or observational studies in humans and there is an urgent need for well-designed, randomized, controlled trials to show whether the observed associations are indeed causal. © 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
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