Vitamin D2 Vs Vitamin D3
To better understand these vitamins, we must first talk about their similarities and differences.
Vitamin D2 is known as ergocalciferol, and it mainly comes from plant sources. Vitamin D3, on the other hand, is known as cholecalciferol, which is extracted from animal sources.
In an article published in Harvard Mens Health Watch, it was pointed out that vitamin D2 is the only form that is used for preparing prescriptions.
On the other hand, both forms are used in supplements.
While there are studies that point out that cholecalciferol is more efficient in raising vitamin D levels, it is important to note that both are equally effective when taken as a supplement in the long run.
What Does Research Say About Vitamin D
Although research on vitamin D abounds, its effect on human health remains uncertain. Thats largely because the majority of vitamin D studies either are on animals or were conducted in small human populations. Most important, the majority of research on the nutrient is observational, meaning that the findings dont point to a definite cause-and-effect relationship between vitamin D and the potential health benefit being studied.
Studies that do produce likely causal results are conducted with a randomized controlled model, in which researchers eliminate the risk of bias and account for potentially conflicting factors, notes George Washington University. Large randomized controlled trials are considered the gold standard for research, and unfortunately, there havent been many on vitamin D supplementation and its various possible health benefits.
With research limitations in mind, heres an in-depth look at what vitamin D can, may, and definitely won’t do for your health.
Vitamin D May Help Reduce The Risk Of Certain Cancers
Dr. Boyd points to various studiesmost of which are referenced on the National Cancer Institute’s websitethat provide some evidence that vitamin D may have cancer fighting powers. Evidence is increasing that vitamin D supplementation may improve cancer outcomes, he explains. The cancers for which the most human data are available are colorectal, breast, prostate, and pancreatic cancer.
The NCI specifically calls out a few reasons why researchers are interested in a link between vitamin D and a lowered risk of cancer. The organization points out that some research shows that incidence and death rates for certain cancers were lower among individuals living in southern latitudes, where levels of sunlight exposure are relatively high, than among those living at northern latitudes, though additional research needs to be done to find a specific causal or correlational link between more sunlight exposure and a lower risk of cancer. More experimental evidence, per the NCI, shows, that cancer cells and of tumors in mice, vitamin D has been found to have several activities that might slow or prevent the development of cancer cells and tumors in mice, including promoting cellular differentiation, decreasing cancer cell growth, stimulating cell death , and reducing tumor blood vessel formation .
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Conditions Treated By Vitamin D And D3
Vitamin D2 as a prescription is used to treat hypoparathyroidism , vitamin D resistant rickets, and hypophosphatemia . It is commonly used for vitamin D insufficiency in both its prescription and over-the-counter formulations. The FDA does not approve treatment claims for over-the-counter vitamin supplements, therefore, even though this use is very common, it is considered off-label.
All forms of vitamin D3 supplements are available over-the-counter, and therefore are not FDA approved to make treatment claims. However, vitamin D3 is commonly used off-label to treat hypoparathyroidism and vitamin D deficiency, as well as for osteoporosis prevention.
In March of 2020, the World Health Organization declared a global pandemic in the wake of the spread of SARS-CoV-2, more commonly known as COVID-19. Due to a lack of clear treatment guidelines and a waiting period for the vaccine to be available, the focus shifted to boosting our natural immune system. Vitamin D became a key player in our fight against COVID-19.
Preliminary studies have shown that Vitamin D reduced ICU admissions in COVID-19 patients and improved overall outcomes.
Various uses of vitamin D supplementation are listed in the table below. You should always seek medical advice before beginning vitamin D supplementation.
How Are Walking Abnormalities Treated
A walking abnormality may go away when the underlying condition is treated. For instance, walking abnormalities due to trauma will get better as the injury heals. A cast may be used to set the bone if you have a fracture or broken bone. Surgery can also be done to repair certain injuries.
Your doctor will prescribe antibiotics or antiviral medications if an infection caused your walking abnormality. These medications will treat the infection and help improve your symptoms.
Physical therapy can also be used to help treat walking abnormalities. During physical therapy, youll learn exercises designed to strengthen your muscles and correct the way you walk.
People with a permanent walking abnormality may receive assistive devices, such as crutches, leg braces, a walker, or a cane.
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Why Do Doctors Prescribe Vitamin D2 Instead Of D3
Even though they’re equally effective in addressing vitamin D deficiency, as mentioned, vitamin D2 is still the form used in prescriptions.
In that case, why do doctors prescribe vitamin D2 instead of D3?
The reason is that it is ergocalciferol that helps in treating hypoparathyroidism, hypophosphatemia, and rickets, which is a bone condition caused by vitamin D deficiency.
Simply put, vitamin D2 is the form that has therapeutic value, compared with vitamin D3 that is indicated as a supplement.
One Study Estimates That Around 20% Of The Population In The Uk Has A Profound Vitamin D Deficiency
Few doubt the role that vitamin D plays in our bone health to regulate calcium and phosphate in the body, which is why those who have a vitamin D deficiency are particularly encouraged to address it. And that may be more people than you think: one study estimates that around 20% of the population in the UK has a profound vitamin D deficiency, for example.
A third of UK adults who supplement their diet with vitamins take vitamin D
But some experts say that people with healthy levels have no need of vitamin D supplements which would be most people. In other words, they argue that in healthy people, vitamin D is not, as some have hoped, a way to prevent disease.
So whats the reality?
Despite its name, vitamin D is not a vitamin. Instead, it is a hormone that promotes the absorption of calcium in the body. The challenge is that, aside from a few foods like oily fish, vitamin D is hard to find in the average diet. But in the presence of “ultraviolet B” rays, our skin can produce its own from a common cholesterol.
Vitamin D is found in only a few foods, like oily fish
There are two main types of D. The first is vitamin D3, which is found in animals including fish and is the kind the skin makes when exposed to sunlight. The second is vitamin D2, which comes from plant-based foods including mushrooms. Studies have found that D3 is more effective, and the conclusions of a 2012 meta-analysis argue that D3 is the preferred choice for supplementation.
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What Does Sunlight Have To Do With Getting Enough Vitamin D
There are health benefits of sunlight. Vitamin D is produced when your skin is exposed to sunshine, or rather, the ultraviolet B radiation that the sun emits. The amount of vitamin D that your skin makes depends on such factors as:
- The season: This factor depends a bit on where you live. In areas such as Cleveland, OH, the UV-B light does not reach the earth for six months out of the year due to the ozone layer and the zenith of the sun.
- The time of day: The sun’s rays are most powerful between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.
- The amount of cloud cover and air pollution.
- Where you live: Cities near the equator have higher ultraviolet light levels. It is the UV-B light in sunlight that causes your skin to make vitamin D.
- The melanin content of your skin: Melanin is a brown-black pigment in the eyes, hair and skin. Melanin causes skin to tan. The darker your skin, the more sun exposure is needed in order to get sufficient vitamin D from the sun.
Is Vitamin D Deficiency An Epidemic No Its Not
Thomas Carpenter, MD, Yale Medicine pediatric endocrinologist and director of the Yale School of Medicines Center for X-Linked Hypophosphatemia
Based on the United States Dietary Association and National Health and Nutrition Surveys , the bulk of the population is not vitamin D-deficient. The population we tend to see vitamin D deficiency inand its typically in wintertimeare breastfed infants. Breast milk doesn’t have much vitamin D in it. That’s what spurred a recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics that every breastfed infant be given vitamin D . But if infants aren’t given multivitamin drops, they need to be given 200 IU a day of vitamin D for the first two months of life and 400 units a day afterwards until theyre drinking formula or milk, which are each fortified with vitamin D.
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Vitamin D Boosts Weight Loss
Consider adding vitamin D supplements to your diet if youre trying to lose weight or prevent heart disease. You can find a great selection of vitamin D supplements on .
In one study, people taking a daily calcium and vitamin D supplement were able to lose more weight than subjects taking a placebo supplement. The scientists said the extra calcium and vitamin D had an appetite-suppressing effect.
In another study, overweight people who took a daily vitamin D supplement improved their heart disease risk markers.
Many factors can affect your ability to get sufficient amounts of vitamin D through the sun alone. These factors include:
- Being in an area with high pollution
- Using sunscreen
- Spending more time indoors
- Living in big cities where buildings block sunlight
- Having darker skin.
These factors contribute to vitamin D deficiency in an increasing number of people. Thats why its important to get some of your vitamin D from sources besides sunlight.
The symptoms of a vitamin D deficiency in adults include:
- severe bone or muscle pain or weakness that may cause difficulty climbing stairs or getting up from the floor or a low chair, or cause you to walk with a waddling gait
- stress fractures, especially in your legs, pelvis, and hips
Doctors can diagnose a vitamin D deficiency by performing a simple blood test. If you have a deficiency, your doctor may order X-rays to check the strength of your bones.
How Much Is Too Much
Many people don’t realise that you can have too much of a good thing. In very high doses, many minerals and vitamins can harm your body. Current guidelines say adults shouldn’t take more than the equivalent of 100 micrograms a day. But vitamin D is a ‘fat-soluble’ vitamin, so your body can store it for months and you don’t need it every day. That means you could equally safely take a supplement of 20 micrograms a day or 500 micrograms once a month. Don’t worry – your doctor or pharmacist aren’t trying to poison you! You can divide the monthly dose by 30 to give you the daily equivalent, which is what counts.
Of course, speaking of too much of a good thing, too much sunshine can be disastrous for your health. Any redness or even tanning of your skin is a sign that your skin has been damaged. In spring and summer, you can get your vitamin D from 15 to 20 minutes a day with arms and face uncovered in full sun. But don’t get burnt – this raises the risk of all kinds of skin cancer, but particularly of deadly melanoma.
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Coverage And Cost Comparison Of Vitamin D Vs D3
Vitamin D2 in prescription form is commonly covered by most commercial and Medicare insurance plans. The over-the-counter formulations are typically not covered by commercial or Medicare insurance plans. The price can vary greatly depending on dosage. The average cost of the 50,000 IU dose for 12 weeks of therapy is $47.99. With a coupon from SingleCare, this price drops to as low as $11.
Vitamin D3 is over-the-counter, and therefore is typically not covered by insurance plans. The price varies depending on dose. D3 can cost as $40 but if your doctor prescribes the medication you can get it for as low as $20 with a SingleCare discount coupon.
In Your Digestive System
Vitamin D also gets to work in your intestines. Here, it helps your body absorb the calcium from your healthy diet and from any calcium supplements.
Make sure you get enough Vitamin D in a format which your body can use. Support your diet and lifestyle with a quality daily Vitamin D3 supplement which can be absorbed and digested by your body.
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Vitamin D Deficiency: Consequences
VDD results in abnormalities in calcium, phosphorus, and bone metabolism. VDD causes a decrease in the absorption of dietary calcium and phosphorus, resulting in an increase in PTH levels. The PTH-mediated increase in osteoclastic activity creates local foci of bone weakness and causes a generalized decrease in bone mineral density , resulting in osteopenia and osteoporosis. An inadequate calciumphosphorus product causes a mineralization defect in the skeleton. In young children who have little mineral in their skeleton, this defect results in a variety of skeletal deformities classically known as rickets. VDD also causes muscle weakness affected children have difficulty in standing and walking, whereas the elderly have increasing sway and more frequent falls, thereby increasing their risk of fracture.
Help Protect Against Heart Disease And Stroke
Is vitamin D heart-healthy? A prior review of 19 studies linked adequate vitamin D to a reduced risk of heart disease, stroke, and heart failure. Yet the VITAL study, a large, randomized clinical trial study involving more than 25,000 participants and published in January 2019 in the New England Journal of Medicine, found no risk reduction for strokes, heart attacks or cardiovascular deaths in people who took 2,000 IU supplements daily.
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Vitamin D And Safe Sun Exposure
UV levels vary depending on the time of year, and the amount of sun exposure you need varies accordingly.
The ‘daily sun protection times’ indicate when the UV level is forecast to be three or above. During these times, people are recommended to use a combination of sun protection measures .Check the free SunSmart app or the Bureau of Meteorology website for daily sun protection times for your location.
It May Enhance Your Immunity
If your daily multivitamin contains vitamins C and D , those nutrients may support your immune system. “If you’re deficient in vitamin D, that does have an impact on your susceptibility to infection,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-disease specialist, in an interview last fall. “I would not mind recommendingand I do it myselftaking vitamin D supplements.”
He added: “The other vitamin that people take is vitamin C because it’s a good antioxidant, so if people want to take a gram or so of vitamin C, that would be fine.”
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How Can I Get More Vitamin D
With an increasing amount of studies into how vitamin D works, were more in-the-know than ever on how to prevent deficiencies. Here are a few ways you can boost your levels:
- Add more D to your diet
Eating your way to higher levels can help – oily fish , egg yolks and red meat all contain small amounts of it. Other sources include breakfast cereals and some yoghurts, which are fortified with vitamin D.
- Take vitamin D supplements
If youve had a blood test that shows youre deficient, another way to up your sunshine vitamin is by taking a vitamin D supplement. Make sure its the real thing, vitamin D3, known as cholecalciferol. Many cheap multivitamins are made up of vitamin D2, ergocalciferol, which is synthetic and less effective. Pop a daily supplement of 10mcg of vitamin D, especially during the winter months, when sunshine is scarce.
- Soak up the sunshine
The most obvious way to up your intake of the sunshine vitamin naturally is to get under those warming rays. Sunlight spurs your body to make vitamin D – this means about 20 to 25 minutes of exposure a day . Those with darker skin and older people may need longer to acquire their daily intake, however, as skin pigmentation hinders light absorption and the process loses efficiency with age.
Here is an easy way to include more vitamins in your diet. Try our flavours water recipes.
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Natural Analogs Of Vitamin D
Vitamin D1 is a molecular compound of ergocalciferol with lumisterol in a 1:1 ratio.
Vitamin D2 is produced by invertebrates, some plants, and fungi. Biological production of D2 is stimulated by ultraviolet light.
Vitamin D3 is synthesized in the skin by the reaction of 7-dehydrocholesterol with UVB radiation, present in sunlight with an UV index of three or more.
Vitamin D4 is an analog scientifically known as 22-dihydroergocalciferol.
Vitamin D5 is an analog created from 7-dehydrositosterol.
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