Vitamin D is not technically a vitamin, since it is not an essential dietary factor. It is rather a prohormone produced photochemically in the skin from 7-dehydrocholesterol. Vitamin D and its metabolites may be categorized as either cholecalciferols or ergocalciferols. Cholecalciferol (vi - tamin D3) is the parent compound of the naturally occurring family and is produced in the skin from 7-dehydrocholesterol on exposure to the ultraviolet B portion of sunlight. Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol), the parent compound of the other family, is manufactured by irradiation of ergosterol produced by yeasts and its potency is less than one-third of vitamin D3’s potency. The steps in the vitamin D endocrine system include the following: 1) the photoconversion of 7- dehydrocholesterol to vitamin D3 in the skin or dietary intake of vitamin D3; 2) metabolism of vitamin D3 by the liver to 25-hydroxyvitamin-D3 [25(OH)D3 ], the major form of vitamin D circulating in the blood compartment; 3) conversion of 25(OH)D3 by the kidney (functioning as an endocrine gland) to the hormone 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 [1,25(OH)2D3 ]; 4) systemic transport of the dihydroxylated metabolite 1,25(OH)2D3 to distal target organs; and 5) binding of 1,25(OH)2D3 to a nuclear receptor (VDR) at target organs, followed by generation of appropriate biological responses. The activation of vitamin D to its hormonal form is mediated by cytochrome P450 enzymes. Six cytochrome P450 (CYP) isoforms have been shown to hydroxylate vitamin D. Four of these, CYP27A1, CYP2R1, CYP3A4 and CYP2J3, are candidates for the enzyme vitamin D 25-hy - droxylase that is involved in the first step of activation. The highly regulated, renal enzyme 25-hydroxyvitamin D-1a-hy - dro xylase contains the component CYP27B1, which completes the activation pathway to the hormonal form 1,25(OH)2D3. A five-step inactivation pathway from 1,25(OH)2D3 to calcitroic acid is attributed to a single multifunctional CYP, CYP24A1, which is transcriptionally in du - ced in vitamin D target cells by the action of 1,25(OH)2D3. An additional key component in the operation of the vitamin D endocrine system is the plasma vitamin D binding protein (DBP), which carries vitamin D3 and its metabolites to their metabolism and target organs. DBP is a specific, high-affinity transport protein. It is synthesized by the liver and circulates in great excess, with fewer than 5% of the binding sites normally occupied. 1,25(OH)2D3, acts as a ligand for a nuclear transcription factor, vitamin D receptor - VDR, which like all other nuclear receptors, regulates gene transcription and cell function. The widespread presence of VDR, and the key activating (1a-hydroxylase, CYP27B1) and inactivating (24-hydroxylase, CYP24A1) en - zy mes in most mammalian cells means that the cells in these tissues have the potential to produce biological res pon ses, depending on the availability of appropriate amounts of vi - tamin D3. Thanks to this widespread presence of elements of vitamin D endocrine system, its biological features are being recognized outside bone tissue, i.e. calcium and pho - sphate metabolism.