Vitamin D2 and vitamin D3 from dietary sources are incorporated into chylomicrons and transported by the lymphatic system into the venous circulation. Vitamin D (hereafter, “D” represents D2 or D3) made in the skin or ingested in the diet can be stored in and then released from fat cells.
Vitamin D in the circulation is bound to the vitamin D–binding protein, which transports it to the liver, where vitamin D is converted by vitamin D-25-hydroxylase to 25(OH)D. This is the major circulating form of vitamin D that is used by clinicians to determine vitamin D status. (Although most laboratories report the normal range to be 20 to 100 ng/mL [50 to 250 nmol/L], the preferred range is 30 to 60 ng/mL [75 to 150 nmol/L].) This form of vitamin D is biologically inactive and must be converted in the kidneys by 25-hydroxyvitamin D-1α-hydroxylase (1-OHase) to the biologically active form 1,25(OH)2D.
Serum phosphorus, calcium, fibroblast growth factor 23 (FGF-23), and other factors can either increase (+) or decrease (−) the renal production of 1,25(OH)2D. 1,25(OH)2D decreases its own synthesis through negative feedback and decreases the synthesis and secretion of PTH by the parathyroid glands. 1,25(OH)2D increases the expression of 25-hydroxyvitamin D-24-hydroxylase (24-OHase) to catabolize 1,25(OH)2D to the water-soluble biologically inactive calcitroic acid, which is excreted in the bile.
1,25(OH)2D enhances intestinal calcium absorption in the small intestine by interacting with the vitamin D receptor–retinoic acid x-receptor complex (VDR-RXR) to enhance the expression of the epithelial calcium channel (transient receptor potential cation channel, subfamily V, member 6 [TRPV6]) and calbindin 9K, a calcium-binding protein (CaBP). 1,25(OH)2D is recognized by its receptor in osteoblasts, causing an increase in the expression of the receptor activator of RANKL.
RANK, the receptor for RANKL on preosteoclasts, binds RANKL, which induces preosteoclasts to become mature osteoclasts.
Mature osteoclasts remove calcium and phosphorus from the bone, maintaining calcium and phosphorus levels in the blood. Adequate Ca2+ and phosphorus (HPO42−) levels promote the mineralization of the skeleton.