It is recommended to supplement with this sunshine vitamin, especially during the winter months. But which type of vitamin D is the right one? We investigate vitamin D2 vs D3.
You’ll find in this article:
What is Vitamin D & Why is it Important?
Vitamin D benefits the body in many ways, keeping bones and teeth healthy, as well as muscles and strength. Plus, research shows that people who suffer from skin conditions like eczema tend to have a lower level of vitamin D in their systems than those who don’t.
Both types of vitamin D can be found in foods, however, sunshine is the main source of vitamin D and, unfortunately, your diet is unlikely to provide enough. In fact it’s good to supplement with vitamin D from September to March, and all year round if you cover up your skin.
Vitamin D supplementation, combined with regular sleep and good hygiene is an effective approach to countering more commonplace, naturally occurring aches and pains, such as arthritis, menstrual cramps and back pains. Muscle soreness that’s unrelated to weightlifting may also be due to vitamin D, as is fatigue.
You get a healthy free dose of vitamin D when the sun is out during summer months, but in 2016, it was reported that in colder countries, people weren’t getting enough vitamin D into their systems, which is why vitamin D deficiency is common in adults who cover up in the sun. A lack of vitamin D has also been shown to lead to other health issues such as worsening the symptoms of osteoporosis.
Also, because of its effect on the immune system, a lack of vitamin D could be a reason why you’re more susceptible to those common work-place germs.
Lastly, vitamin D deficiency has been associated with increased symptoms of depression, according to a new study. This is because of its association with dopamine levels, a chemical linked to mood.
Vitamin D2 vs D3
So, you’ve come to think of it as just vitamin D, but in fact, there’s more than one type. Vitamin D is not a single compound, but a whole combination of related nutrients.
Vitamin D3, also known as cholecalciferol, comes from animal-sourced foods. When sunlight hits exposed skin, a reactive process converts cholesterol into vitamin D3. Top sources of vitamin D3 include oily fish and fish oil, liver, egg yolk and butter, to name just a few.
Vitamin D2, also known as ergocalciferol, comes mostly from plant sources and fortified foods. Dairy-free milk (including soy, coconut, and almond milk) are often boosted with D2. Dietary sources of vitamin D2 include alfalfa, mushrooms and fortified foods such as cereals.
Both vitamin D2 and D3 are absorbed into the bloodstream but are metabolized by the body in different ways.
The liver metabolises vitamin D2 into 25-hydroxyvitamin D2, and turns vitamin D3 into 25-hydroxyvitamin D3. These compounds are known as calcifediol, which is the main form of vitamin D that circulate within the body. This reflects how much vitamin D is in the blood, and so vitamin D levels are measured by reading the levels of calcifediol in the blood.
Vitamin D2 does not raise vitamin D levels as effectively as D3. Studies have proven that vitamin D3 is more effective than vitamin D2 at raising blood levels of calcifediol.
Vitamin D2 Dosage
The daily recommended dosage of vitamin D2 has not been established, but a dose of 50µg (micrograms) is considered a safe amount, and is often the size of a capsule serving.
However, too much vitamin D2 can cause high blood pressure, kidney stones, kidney failure, weakness, fatigue and constipation. Calcification can occur if high doses are taken for too long a period.
Vitamin D3 Dosage
For people with limited access to good sun exposure, the daily recommendation for vitamin D3 is 25–100µg (micrograms).
Which Vitamin D is Best for Me?
When it comes to which is right for you, it’s widely recommended that vitamin D3 is the most preferable of the two. Vitamin D3 has been found to be at least three times as potent as vitamin D2, and most importantly, it is considered the more stable, safe, and effective for the body.
Vitamin D3 is considered the more important of the two for health and general wellbeing, as the body absorbs D3 easier and makes more effective use of it for normal bodily processes.
For vegans and vegetarians, many head for vitamin D2 when it is a choice of the two supplements, but it is simply a case of choosing a vitamin D3 supplement that doesn’t contain animal products.
Take Home Message
Sunshine is the main source of vitamin D and, unfortunately, your diet is unlikely to provide enough.When it comes down to vitamin D2 vs D3, vitamin D3 is widely acknowledged as the superior product for effectively and safely boosting the body’s vitamin D levels.
Our articles should be used for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to be taken as medical advice. If you’re concerned, consult a health professional before taking dietary supplements or introducing any major changes to your diet.