Did you know that there is more than one Vitamin D? Vitamin D is actually a complex of nutrients that share a similar chemical structure- similarly to B Vitamins!
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Vitamin D2 is called ergocalciferol, and Vitamin D3 is called cholecalciferol. One big difference between the two is that D2 is derived from plants, while D3 is derived from animal products. The following list describes some sources that are high in each D Vitamin:
- Vitamin D2
- Certain mushrooms
- Fortified Foods (dairy products, cereal)
- Vitamin D3
- Fish Oil
- Egg Yolk
- Fatty Fish (Salmon, Tuna, Swordfish)
Mushrooms are an interesting case of Vitamin D exposure- many of the mushrooms that are high in Vitamin D2 are actually grown under a UV light to enhance the absorption. This process derives D2 from ergosterol, which is a compound found in plant oils.
Not only do D2 and D3 differ in terms of how they are derived, but they also differ in terms of how they contribute to your overall Vitamin D levels. Both are able to be absorbed in the bloodstream and are transformed into calcifediol (the main circulating form of Vitamin D), but Vitamin D2 seems to yield less calcifediol compared to its D3 counterpart.
This statistic is not by a small margin either. The following study reported by healthline.com describes how different the yield rate is in the two D Vitamins:
“For example, one study in 32 older women found that a single dose of Vitamin D3 was nearly twice as effective as Vitamin D2 at raising calcifediol levels”
So what does this mean for you? Of course, a balanced diet and some sunlight can help one maintain healthy calcifediol levels. If you happen to abstain from animal products; however, either make sure you are supplementing your D2 to make up for the D3 deficiency or take a D3 supplement if you’re comfortable with it.
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