, Volume 18, Issue 1, pp 37–48 | Cite as

The role of vitamin D in the pathogenesis and treatment of diabetes mellitus: a narrative review

  • Maria Grammatiki
  • Spiros Karras
  • Kalliopi KotsaEmail author
Research Article


Diabetes mellitus, a metabolic disorder associated with chronic complications, is traditionally classified into two main subtypes. Type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM) results from gradual pancreatic islet β cell autoimmune destruction, extending over months or years. Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) is a heterogeneous disorder, with both insulin resistance and impairment in insulin secretion contributing to its pathogenesis. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin with an established role in calcium metabolism. Recently, several studies have provided evidence suggesting a role for it in various non-skeletal metabolic conditions, including both types of diabetes mellitus. Preclinical studies of vitamin D action on insulin secretion, insulin action, inflammatory processes, and immune regulation, along with evidence of an increase of hypovitaminosis D worldwide, have prompted several epidemiological, observational, and supplementation clinical studies investigating a potential biological interaction between hypovitaminosis D and diabetes. This narrative review aims to summarize current knowledge on the effect of vitamin D on T1DM and T2DM pathogenesis, prevention, and treatment, as well as on micro- and macrovascular complications of the disease. Furthermore, on the basis of current existing evidence, we aim to highlight areas for potential future research.


Vitamin D Cholecalciferol Type 1 diabetes mellitus Type 2 diabetes mellitus Diabetes complications 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Hellenic Endocrine Society 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maria Grammatiki
    • 1
  • Spiros Karras
    • 1
  • Kalliopi Kotsa
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Endocrinology and Metabolism-Diabetes Center, 1st Department of Internal MedicineAHEPA University HospitalThessalonikiGreece

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