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Posted by: Scott Stewart, LAc., Dipl.
Most vitamin D supplementation in the US has been, and still is vitamin D2 or ergocalciferol. In the past, no distinctions were made between vitamin D2 and vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol), they were considered equivalents and used interchangeably. The main reason for this is because they are both converted by the liver into 25 - hydroxy vitamin D, which is the form used by the body.
This “equivalent” status given to these two forms of vitamin D originated from some very old Ricketts studies done in the early 20th century, when scientists had first discovered vitamin D, and knew very little about it.
The latest studies show that Vitamin D3 is more potent, and therefore, more effective at raising serum 25 (OH) D. The reason for this is due to its ability to better bind to plasma, and the fact that vitamin D3 is the natural form of vitamin D that is synthesized by the skin and the body, as opposed to vitamin D2 which is a synthetic vitamin. Also, vitamin D2 has a very short shelf life, which means its potency is decreased even more before entering the body’s system.
The final consensus is that vitamin D3 is the best choice for supplementation due to its higher potency and the fact that it is naturally occurring. The benefits from consuming vitamin D3 are numerous, including decreased risk of chronic diseases such as: osteoporosis, cancer, diabetes, and hypertension, as well as, increased immune response.
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