Recent compelling evidence suggests a role of vitamin D deficiency in the pathogenesis of insulin resistance and insulin secretion derangements, with a consequent possible interference with type 2 diabetes mellitus. The mechanism of this link is incompletely understood. In fact, vitamin D deficiency is usually detected in obesity in which insulin resistance is also a common finding.

The coexistence of insulin resistance and vitamin D deficiency has generated several hypotheses. Some cross-sectional and prospective studies have suggested that vitamin D deficiency may play a role in worsening insulin resistance; others have identified obesity as a risk factor predisposing individuals to exhibit both vitamin D deficiency and insulin resistance.

The available data from intervention studies are largely confounded, and inadequate considerations of seasonal effects on 25(OH)D concentrations are also a common design flaw in many studies. On the contrary, there is strong evidence that obesity might cause both vitamin D deficiency and insulin resistance, leaving open the possibility that vitamin D and diabetes are not related at all.

Although it might seem premature to draw firm conclusions on the role of vitamin D supplementation in reducing insulin resistance and preventing type 2 diabetes, this manuscript will review the circumstances leading to vitamin D deficiency and how such a deficiency can eventually independently affect insulin sensitivity.