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Vitamin D3 seems to be more effective than vitamin D2

Published on

06 January 2013

A new UK review has shown that supplements using vitamin D3 could provide more health benefit than those using vitamin D2.

The review compared the health benefits of vitamin D2 and D3 supplementation based on the results of 10 separate studies involving over 1,000 participants in total (1).A meta-analysis showed that vitamin D3 supplements had a significantly stronger effect in raising vitamin D serum levels in humans.

The researchers commented that it used to be thought that both vitamin D types were equally beneficial. However, the researchers’ analysis highlighted that the human body may react differently to both types. Vitamin D3 could actually be more effectively converted by the body into, for example, the hormone responsible for bone and muscle health. The scientists are now conducting another study with over 300 participants to see if the same results are found when adding lower doses of vitamin D2 and vitamin D3 to foods, rather than giving them as supplements. They will also look at how gender, ethnicity and genetic profile may play a role in how the body uses both types of vitamin D.

Studies have shown that large parts of the population do not get enough vitamin D through exposure to sunlight or through dietary means. As a result, some foods are fortified with vitamin D. Usually vitamin D2, which is not derived from animals, is used for fortification. Vitamin D3 is the type of vitamin D found in foods, including eggs and oily fish. The new findings could potentially lead to changes in the food industry concerning fortification.


  1. Tripkovic L. et al. Comparison of vitamin D2 and vitamin D3 supplementation in raising serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D status: a systematic review and meta-analysis. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2012; 95 (6):1357.

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