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Vitamin D2 v D3

What's the difference between Vitamins D2 and D3?

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You’ve heard of vitamin D, but did you know there are two main forms of this important vitamin? Here’s what you need to know about the differences between vitamins D2 and D3.

Also known as the ‘sunshine vitamin’, vitamin D is most commonly associated with bone health. But, as well as having a range of other health benefits, there are actually five different types of vitamin D, with the two most important and well known being vitamin D2, also called ergocalciferol, and vitamin D3, otherwise known as cholecalciferol.

So how different are they? Is one better for you than the other? And is there anything else you need to know about the two different types of vitamin D? Here are three key facts to bear in mind.

Vitamin D2 and D3 come from different sources

Most of our vitamin D comes from exposing our skin to sunlight because, when skin ‘sees’ the sun, ultraviolet rays convert a precursor molecule called 7-dehydrocholesterol into vitamin D – and specifically, into vitamin D3. But, while sunshine is the best natural source of vitamin D, it’s not the only one. Some foods also contain small amounts of vitamin D.

While animal-based food sources of vitamin D, like oily fish, liver and eggs, provide vitamin D3, plant-sourced foods that contain the vitamin – particularly mushrooms – contain vitamin D2. Regardless of whether it’s vitamin D2 or D3, it’s important to know that it can be challenging to obtain enough vitamin D from your diet alone.

They’re both important for good health

And in order to play a role in your health and wellbeing, they both have to go through a couple of processes in the body. The first is required to store them, and the second is all about converting them from ergocalciferol and cholecalciferol, which are both inactive forms of vitamin D, into a hormone called calcitriol, the active form of the vitamin. It doesn’t actually matter if it’s vitamin D2 or vitamin D3, it’s calcitriol that’s responsible for the health benefits that are associated with vitamin D. These include everything from enhancing calcium absorption to maintaining bone health, muscle function and strength, as well as supporting immune system health.

If you’re taking a supplement, choose one that contains vitamin D3

Both vitamin D2 and D3 are used in supplements. It’s not clear yet whether one is ‘better’ than the other as far as delivering some of the health benefits associated with vitamin D, including a healthy immune function, when it’s taken as a supplement. But when it comes to physically improving vitamin D levels in the body, it seems like supplements that contain vitamin D3 are more effective than those that contain vitamin D2. So if you decide to take a vitamin D supplement, or if your GP suggests it, it’s a good idea to look for one that contains vitamin D3.


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Blackmores Vitamin D3 1000IU is a one a day dose of Vitamin D3 to support healthy bones and support immune system health. Vitamin D helps calcium absorption. A diet deficient in calcium can lead to osteoporosis in later life.

Always read the label and follow directions for use.