Multiple cell compartments at or near the base of the intestinal crypt have been identified as contributing intestinal stem cells for homeostasis of the rapidly turning over intestinal mucosa and cells that can initiate tumor development upon appropriate genetic changes. There is a strong literature establishing the importance of the frequently dividing Lgr5+ crypt base columnar cells as the fundamental cell in providing these stem cell-associated functions, but there are also clear data that more quiescent cells from other compartments can be mobilized to provide these stem cell functions upon compromise of Lgr5+ cells. We review the data that vitamin D, a pleiotropic hormone, is essential for Lgr5 stem cell functions by signaling through the vitamin D receptor. Moreover, we discuss the implications of this role of vitamin D and its impact on relatively long-lived stem cells in regards to the fact that virtually all the data on normal functioning of mouse Lgr5 stem cells is derived from mice exposed to vitamin D levels well above those that characterize the human population. Thus, there are still many questions regarding how dietary and environmental factors influence the complement of cells providing stem cell functions and the mechanisms by which this is determined, and the importance of this in human colorectal tumor development. J. Cell. Biochem. 118: 943-952, 2017. © 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.