Difference Between Vitamin D2 and D3

Vitamin D, a fat-soluble vitamin that improves calcium absorption, regulates bone formation and aids in immunological function. When skin is exposed to sunshine, it creates vitamin D. But, if you spend the majority of your time inside or reside in a cold climate, you’ll have to supplement your diet with this vitamin. However, because significant natural sources of this vitamin are scarce, it may be hard to obtain appropriate levels from your diet only. People frequently do not get adequate amounts of this vitamin for these reasons. Vitamin D is basically of two types, D2 and D3, and knowing the distinction between the two is important.

Vitamin D2 vs Vitamin D3

The main difference between vitamin D2 and D3 is that D2 is derived from plants, and D3 is derived from animals. Both have different molecular structures, but they perform the same work for the body. They both help in increasing vitamin D levels in humans. It is also derived from some research that D3 has a better capacity to raise levels as compared to D2.

Vitamin D2 and D3

Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) is a vitamin D supplement that is accessible both by prescription and over-the-counter. It is obtainable in the form of pills, tablets, and an oral solution. Vitamin D2 is by far the most prevalent type of vitamin D present in fortified foods and is derived from plants.

Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) is a vitamin D prescription that is available over-the-counter in a range of dosages. Oral pills and capsules, as well as oral and sublingual solutions, are available. Animal products containing vitamin D3 include fatty fish, fish oil, egg yolks, and liver. Also, sunlight is a major source of this vitamin.

Comparison Table Between Vitamin D2 and D3

Parameter of comparisonVitamin D2Vitamin D3
DefinitionInactivated type of vitamin D which is used to treat calcium and parathyroid disordersHelps in immune system health, and suppresses inflammatory cytokines.
Derived fromPlant-based sourcesAnimal-based sources
Consequence of deficiencyDepression, fatigue, pain, and muscle weaknessFalse growth pattern, muscle weakness, pain in joints, bones, weight loss, and joint deformity
Increases vitamin D levelsModeratelySignificantly
Supplement derivedSyntheticallyNaturally

What is Vitamin D2?

Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) is a vitamin D supplement that is accessible both by prescription and over-the-counter. It is obtainable in the form of pills, tablets, and an oral solution. Vitamin D2 is by far the most prevalent type of vitamin D present in fortified foods and is derived from plants.

Vitamin D2 is derived from plant sources, like wild mushrooms, and also from fortified foods, like cereal products or milk. The strength of this vitamin is measured in international units, which can be found on labels as “IU”. Fortified food products commonly use this vitamin because it is less expensive as compared to D3.
There are several foods that are naturally high in vitamin D. Some producers chemically enrich their commodities with D2. The level of D2 in the product is frequently determined by the producer. This information is available on the label.

Vitamin D2 is prescribed to cure vitamin D-resistant rickets, hypoparathyroidism (low parathyroid hormone secretion), and hypophosphatemia (low levels of phosphorus in the blood).

Scientists are concerned that vitamin D2 supplements may be of poorer quality, as compared to, vitamin D3 supplements. Research shows that vitamin D2 is more susceptible to temperature and humidity variations. As a result, vitamin D2 pills may break down faster over time.

What is Vitamin D3?

Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) is a vitamin D prescription that is available over-the-counter in a range of dosages. Oral pills and capsules, as well as oral and sublingual solutions, are available. Animal products containing vitamin D3 include fatty fish, fish oil, egg yolks, and liver. Also, sunlight is a major source of this vitamin.

This vitamin is also said to be a sunshine vitamin. This is because our skin produces this vitamin when exposed to the sun. To be specific, it is ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation from sunlight that triggers vitamin D3 formation from the compound 7-dehydrocholesterol present in the skin. Its strength is also measured in international units. Different kinds of vitamin D3 are available over-the-counter for our use.

An estimated half an hour of sun, midday, twice a week provides Indian people with an adequate amount of D3. it is important to note that this time duration is not applicable to countries situated far away from the equator. As there, more exposure will be necessary to get similar results.

Interestingly, we cannot have an overdose of D3 produced in our skin because if we already have desired levels of this vitamin in our body, our skin will automatically produce less of it. Having said that, many people in various countries get less sun because they are in countries which get less sunlight during winter, or because of working indoors. Such people should consume food rich in vitamin D.

Main Differences Between Vitamin D2 and D3

  1. It is an inactivated type of vitamin D that is used to treat calcium and parathyroid disorders. Vitamin D3, on the other hand, helps in immune system health, and to suppress inflammatory cytokines.
  2. Vitamin D2 is generally derived from plant-based sources, and D3 comes from animal-based sources.
  3. Deficiency of vitamin D2 can cause problems like depression, fatigue, pain, and muscle weakness. While D3 deficiency causes false growth patterns, muscle weakness, pain in joints, bones, weight loss, and joint deformity.
  4. Vitamin D2 helps by only moderately increasing vitamin D levels in the body, while Vitamin D3 is more effective and a significant increase in vitamin D levels can be seen by it.
  5. Vitamin D2 is a synthetically derived supplement, on the other hand, Vitamin D3 is a naturally derived supplement.

Conclusion

In responding to sunlight exposure, the human body can produce vitamin D. Some folks, however, might have to enhance their consumption with specific meals or supplements. Both vitamin D2 and vitamin D3 can assist a person in meeting their vitamin D needs.Both vitamin D2 and D3 are commonly used vitamin D pills, although they are not the same. Ergocalciferol, or vitamin D2, is derived from plants. Vitamin D3 is cholecalciferol and is obtained from animal sources. Some vitamin D2 formulations require a prescription, but all vitamin D3 formulations are available without a prescription.Some studies have stated that vitamin D3 contributes more to vitamin D stores in our bodies, as compared to D2.

References

  1. https://academic.oup.com/jcem/article-abstract/101/8/3070/2835033
  2. https://academic.oup.com/jcem/article-abstract/96/3/E447/2597204
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