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  • Author: Elisabeth Lerchbaum x
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Christian Trummer Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Endocrinology and Diabetology, Medical University of Graz, Graz, Austria

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Stefan Pilz Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Endocrinology and Diabetology, Medical University of Graz, Graz, Austria

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Verena Schwetz Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Endocrinology and Diabetology, Medical University of Graz, Graz, Austria

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Barbara Obermayer-Pietsch Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Endocrinology and Diabetology, Medical University of Graz, Graz, Austria

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Elisabeth Lerchbaum Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Endocrinology and Diabetology, Medical University of Graz, Graz, Austria

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Background

Accumulating evidence from animal and human studies suggests that vitamin D is involved in many functions of the reproductive system in both genders.

Aim

The aim of this review was to provide an overview on the effects of vitamin D on polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) in women and androgen metabolism in men.

Methods

We performed a systematic literature search in PubMed for relevant English language publications published from January 2012 until September 2017.

Results and discussion

The vitamin D receptor and vitamin D-metabolizing enzymes are found in reproductive tissues of women and men. In women, vitamin D status has been associated with several features of PCOS. In detail, cross-sectional data suggest a regulatory role of vitamin D in PCOS-related aspects such as ovulatory dysfunction, insulin resistance as well as hyperandrogenism. Moreover, results from randomized controlled trials (RCTs) suggest that vitamin D supplementation may be beneficial for metabolic, endocrine and fertility aspects in PCOS. In men, vitamin D status has been associated with androgen levels and hypogonadism. Further, there is some evidence for a favorable effect of vitamin D supplementation on testosterone concentrations, although others failed to show a significant effect on testosterone levels.

Conclusion

In summary, vitamin D deficiency is associated with adverse fertility outcomes including PCOS and hypogonadism, but the evidence is insufficient to establish causality. High-quality RCTs are needed to further evaluate the effects of vitamin D supplementation in PCOS women as well as on androgen levels in men.

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Stefan Pilz Division of Endocrinology and Diabetology, Department of Internal Medicine, Medical University of Graz, Graz, Austria

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Armin Zittermann Clinic for Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, Herz- und Diabeteszentrum NRW, Ruhr University Bochum, Bad Oeynhausen, Germany

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Christian Trummer Division of Endocrinology and Diabetology, Department of Internal Medicine, Medical University of Graz, Graz, Austria

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Verena Theiler-Schwetz Division of Endocrinology and Diabetology, Department of Internal Medicine, Medical University of Graz, Graz, Austria

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Elisabeth Lerchbaum Division of Endocrinology and Diabetology, Department of Internal Medicine, Medical University of Graz, Graz, Austria

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Martin H Keppel University Institute for Medical and Chemical Laboratory Diagnostics, Paracelsus Medical University, Salzburg, Austria

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Martin R Grübler Department of Cardiology, Swiss Cardiovascular Center Bern, Bern University Hospital, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland

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Winfried März Clinical Institute of Medical and Chemical Laboratory Diagnostics, Medical University of Graz, Graz, Austria
Medical Clinic V (Nephrology, Hypertensiology, Rheumatology, Endocrinology, Diabetology), Medical Faculty Mannheim, Ruperto-Carola University of Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany
Synlab Medical Center of Human Genetics Mannheim, Mannheim, Germany

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Marlene Pandis Division of Endocrinology and Diabetology, Department of Internal Medicine, Medical University of Graz, Graz, Austria

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Vitamin D testing and treatment is a subject of controversial scientific discussions, and it is challenging to navigate through the expanding vitamin D literature with heterogeneous and partially opposed opinions and recommendations. In this narrative review, we aim to provide an update on vitamin D guidelines and the current evidence on the role of vitamin D for human health with its subsequent implications for patient care and public health issues. Vitamin D is critical for bone and mineral metabolism, and it is established that vitamin D deficiency can cause rickets and osteomalacia. While many guidelines recommend target serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25[OH]D) concentrations of ≥50 nmol/L (20 ng/mL), the minimum consensus in the scientific community is that serum 25(OH)D concentrations below 25–30 nmol/L (10–12 ng/mL) must be prevented and treated. Using this latter threshold of serum 25(OH)D concentrations, it has been documented that there is a high worldwide prevalence of vitamin D deficiency that may require public health actions such as vitamin D food fortification. On the other hand, there is also reason for concern that an exploding rate of vitamin D testing and supplementation increases costs and might potentially be harmful. In the scientific debate on vitamin D, we should consider that nutrient trials differ from drug trials and that apart from the opposed positions regarding indications for vitamin D treatment we still have to better characterize the precise role of vitamin D for human health.

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