Beyond the skeleton: the role of vitamin D in companion animal health

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While the role of vitamin D in the maintenance of skeletal health has been well-established for many years, the discovery that many non-skeletal tissues express the vitamin D receptor stimulated renewed interest in vitamin D and its wider physiological roles. Subsequently, a vast literature has emerged over the past three decades which has linked vitamin D deficiency to the development of many human diseases including cancer, autoimmune, infectious and cardiovascular disorders. In contrast, the role vitamin D plays in the physiology of non-skeletal tissues in cats and dogs has received little attention. The situation is now starting to change with the publication of several studies that have indicated that vitamin D metabolism is deranged in numerous companion animal disorders. This article reviews the biology of vitamin D in companion animals and highlights some of the recent studies which have advanced understanding of vitamin D homeostasis in cats and dogs. Finally, the essay discusses how a "One Health" approach could further the understanding of vitamin D metabolism in mammals. Investigating vitamin D homoeostasis in companion animals offers many advantages compared to human studies in which vitamin D status is influenced by many more variables.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)175-80
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Small Animal Practice
Issue number4
Early online date18 Mar 2016
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 18 Mar 2016


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