Vitamin D is not just a single vitamin, but it is a family of nutrients sharing similarities in chemical structures. The most common types of vitamin D are the Vitamin D2 and vitamin D3. Though both these types of vitamin D help you meet the required amount of vitamin D levels in your body, they differ in a few important ways. According to research, vitamin D3 is more effective than Vitamin D2 in increasing the vitamin D levels in the blood. Let us now learn more about the differences between the two forms of vitamin D, namely Vitamin D2 and Vitamin D3 in the following paragraphs of this article.

Advertisement

Vitamin D. Vitamin D2 Vs Vitamin D3

Our skin produces Vitamin D when we remain in sunlight for some time. We can also get Vitamin D from foods, such as fish oils, fatty fish, egg yolk, liver and butter. Vitamin D supplements can also be taken to increase the vitamin D levels in the blood.

Vitamin D is actually a fat-soluble vitamin that primarily exists in two important forms, and they include Vitamin D2, also known as Ergocalciferol and Vitamin D3 or Cholecalciferol.

Advertisement

Basic Differences Between Vitamin D2 & Vitamin D3

Vitamin D2. Vitamin D2 is also known by the name Ergocalciferol. Mushrooms are rich sources of vitamin D2. Some fortified foods also contain vitamin D2, and dairy-free milk, such as coconut, almond and soy, for instance, contain vitamin D2.

Vitamin D3. Vitamin D3 is also known by the name Cholecalciferol and it is in fact the most active form of Vitamin D present in animals and humans. When our skin gets sunlight, the cholesterol is converted into an active form of the D3 vitamin. This form of vitamin D is important as it promotes calcium absorption in our bones. Cod liver oil contains a lot of vitamin D3 in it and can be used to protect against several bone-weakening diseases.

Advertisement

Structural and Formation Differences Between Vitamin D2 & Vitamin D3

Vitamin D2. There are some structural differences between the two forms of vitamin D, i.e. the vitamin D2 and the vitamin D3. These differences are in their side chains. There is a double bond in the side chain of vitamin D2, between the carbon 22 and 23, and a methyl group present on the carbon 24. Vitamin D2 is produced by the invertebrates, the plants and fungus in response to the UV light.

Vitamin D3. Vitamin D3 is prepared in the skin when 7-dehydrocholesterol reacts with the UV light at wavelengths between 27nm- to 300 nm, with a peak synthesis occurring in between 295 nm to 297 nm.

Differences Between Vitamin D2 & Vitamin D3 Based On Their Food Sources

Vitamin D2. There are some noted differences between the two vitamin D forms, i.e. Vitamin D2 and vitamin D3, based on the food sources, we get these two forms of vitamin D. Vitamin D2 primarily comes from plant food sources and from fortified foods. Some sources of D2 form of vitamin D include; mushroom, dietary supplements, fortified foods;

Vitamin D3. Vitamin D3 is present only in the animal-sourced foods. Some sources of vitamin D3 include oily fish, fish oil, egg yolk, liver, butter and dietary supplements.

Difference in Effectiveness of Vitamin D2 & Vitamin D3 at Improving Vitamin D Levels

Vitamin D2 and Vitamin D3 are not similar, when it comes to their effectiveness in increasing the vitamin D levels in your body. Though both these forms of vitamin D are absorbed in the bloodstream in quite an effective manner; however, the liver metabolizes the two forms of vitamin D quite differently.

Our liver metabolizes D2 Vitamin into a compound 25-hydroxyvitamin D2, while the vitamin D3 into a compound known as 25-hydroxyvitamin D3. Both these compounds are together called as Calcifediol. The primary circulating form of Vitamin D is the Calcifediol, and its level in blood reflects the stores of this special nutrient in your body. This is the reason why your doctor estimates the status of vitamin D in your body by measuring the levels of Calcifediol in your blood. However, one thing must be mentioned that the vitamin D2 form of vitamin D seems to yield less calcifediol than an equal amount of the D3 vitamin. Most studies have found that vitamin D2 is less effective than vitamin D3 at increasing the levels of Calcifediol in the blood.

So, in case you are taking supplements of vitamin D, then try choosing vitamin D3 supplement, as it helps in improving the vitamin D level in your blood more.

Conclusion

So vitamin D is a family of related nutrients and the most common dietary forms of vitamin D are vitamin D2 and vitamin D3. From the above description in our article, we know that vitamin D3 appears to be quite more effective at increasing the Vitamin D levels in the blood, than vitamin D2. But it is always essential for us to take adequate amount of the vitamins so as to maintain the Vitamin levels in the body. Consuming a lot of foods rich in vitamin D and spending some time in the sunlight can be helpful in increasing the level of vitamin D in your body. You can also talk to your doctor and take vitamin D supplements if needed.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD,FFARCSI

Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: February 8, 2019

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

Advertisement

Sign Up for Our Newsletter

We'll help you live each day to the healthiest