Vitamin D—Are You Taking the Right Form?

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Vitamin D is one of the most important nutrients for support of optimal health. Vitamin D deficiency (generally recognized as below 20 ng/mL as measured in blood), and insufficiency (generally recognized as between 20 to 30 ng/mL) have been linked to a huge range of health conditions, including osteoporosis, bone fractures, common cancers, autoimmune diseases, infectious diseases, and cardiovascular diseases. Read Dr. Smith’s blog on the eye-opening prevalence of vitamin D deficiency and how to get enough of this essential vitamin.

One important detail sometimes missing from the vitamin D story is this: The form of vitamin D you take in a supplement makes a big difference in how you absorb and use vitamin D. Vitamin D supplements are available in two forms: ergocalciferol (vitamin D2) and cholecalciferol (vitamin D3). These forms of vitamin D are precursors to the form of vitamin D that is stored in the body—25-hydroxy-vitamin D.

A recent meta-analysis published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that vitamin D3 is more effective at raising levels of vitamin D in the body. The researchers stated, “It is clear that, overall, there was consistency in the results that shows cholecalciferol [vitamin D3] appears to have advantageous biological qualities that allows it to sustain its systemic influence for far longer and at far greater concentrations than does ergocalciferol [vitamin D2].”

At a range of doses vitamin D3 outshined D2. Experts have been singing the praises of vitamin D3 over D2 for quite some time now and this analysis further supports that view, concluding that, “vitamin D3 could potentially become the preferred choice for supplementation.” For many it has become the preferred choice, yet vitamin D2 is still found in many vitamin supplements. This week, check the labels of your vitamin D-containing supplements. If you are not taking D3, please consider a switch.

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