Which vitamin is better for your health, D2 or D3?

Vitamins D2 and D3 are the two main forms of Vitamin D. Vitamin D2 is found in plants and yeasts, while Vitamin D3 comes from animal sources. Vitamin D is essential for a range of bodily functions such as bone, muscle, and immune system health.
The human body is able to produce vitamin D in response to exposure to sunlight. However, some people may need to increase their intake through certain foods or supplements. Both vitamins D2 and D3 can help a person meet their vitamin D needs.
This article explains what vitamins D2 and D3 are, the differences between them and their effects on the body. It also lists foods rich in these two vitamins.

What is vitamin D?

Vitamin D is essential for good health. It helps the body absorb the calcium it needs to build, maintain, and repair bones. It also plays a key role in muscle movement, the nervous system, and the immune system. Vitamin D deficiency can lead to serious health problems. Research indicates that 50% of the world’s population does not have adequate levels of vitamin D, while 35% of adults have a vitamin D deficiency.
In children, a lack of vitamin D can lead to rickets. Then their bones soften and become prone to fractures. In adults, it can increase the risk of developing osteomalacia and osteoporosis, resulting in brittle bones, or brittle bones. Very few foods naturally contain vitamin D. However, many manufacturers fortify foods with this vitamin, such as cereal and milk, for public health reasons.

Usually, one gets most of their vitamin D through the sun or supplements. When people expose their skin to the sun, a chain reaction occurs, allowing the body to produce vitamin D. Various things can affect the amount of vitamin D your skin produces. Light-skinned people produce more vitamin D than dark-skinned people, for example. Other factors include weather and time of day. While the sun is the main source of vitamin D, it’s important to remember that sunburn can increase your risk of skin cancer.

Benefits of Vitamin D3 vs Benefits of Vitamin D2

Vitamin D2 and Vitamin D3 are the two main forms of Vitamin D. Scientists sometimes call D2 ergocalciferol and D3 cholecalciferol.
Both play the same role in the body, but vitamins D2 and D3 have slightly different molecular structures. The main difference is that vitamin D2 comes from plants, while D3 comes from animals, including humans. Scientists do not yet know if one is better than the other for human health. Both types of supplements increase the level of vitamin D in a person’s blood. Vitamin D3 can promote higher levels and for longer than D2. A 2012 study indicates that vitamin D3 appears to be more effective in increasing vitamin D levels than D2.

Other studies also suggest that D3 may be better than D2. A 2016 study reports that vitamin D3 supplementation twice a week for 5 weeks was more effective at increasing vitamin D levels in adults than the same amount of vitamin D2.

Foods Rich in Vitamin D2

Few foods are naturally high in vitamin D. Some manufacturers artificially fortify their products with D2, which comes from plants. These may include fortified products

Cow’s milk and vegetable milks such as oats, almonds, and soy milk
– orange juice
– Grain.

The amount of D2 present in a product often depends on the manufacturer. This information can be found on the label. Mushrooms and yeast that have been exposed to sunlight or UV rays are among the few foods that naturally contain high levels of vitamin D2. Half a cup of raw white mushrooms contains 46% of the recommended daily value (DV) of vitamin D for adults.

Foods Rich in Vitamin D3

Foods rich in vitamin D3 come naturally from animal sources. can include

Cod Liver Oil: One tablespoon contains 170% of the recommended vitamin D for an adult.
Trout: 85 grams of cooked rainbow trout contains 81% of the recommended daily value for vitamin D.
Salmon: 85 grams of cooked salmon contains 71% of vitamin D.

Other foods contain vitamin D3, but in smaller amounts. These include in particular:

Sardines: After drying the oil, 2 sardines from a can will provide 6% of the vitamin D for adults.
Eggs: 1 large egg provides 6% of the daily vitamin D an adult should get.
Beef liver: 60 grams of slow cooked beef liver contains 5% of the daily amount of vitamin D for an adult.
Tuna: 60 grams of canned tuna provides 5% of the RDI for adults.

Vitamin D2 and D3, what to remember

Vitamin D is essential for health. It plays a key role in maintaining healthy bones, nervous system, and immune system. Vitamin D can be obtained through exposure to sunlight, through diet, or through supplements. Vitamins D2 and D3 are the main forms of vitamin D and both play the same role in the body. Scientists don’t know if one is better than the other, although some studies have shown that D3 is more effective than D2 at increasing vitamin D levels in the body. Vitamin D2 comes from plants, while animals, including humans, produce Vitamin D3.

Few foods naturally contain vitamin D. Therefore, manufacturers may fortify foods with vitamin D, such as milk, juices, and cereal. Mushrooms are a good natural source of vitamin D2, while fatty fish are a good source of vitamin D3.


Boutress, J.L., et al. (2020). Is a Vitamin D Fortification Strategy Needed?

Moriarty, C (2018). Vitamin D ‘D’-bunked myths.

Shih, A, et al. (2016). Effects of higher doses of vitamin D2 versus D3 on total and free 25-hydroxyvitamin D and markers of calcium homeostasis.

Cesar, or . , and others. (2021). Vitamin D deficiency.

Trebkovich, L, et al. (2012). Comparison of vitamin D2 and vitamin D3 supplementation in raising the status of 25-hydroxyvitamin D serum: a systematic review and meta-analysis.

Walker, M, et al. (2013). Sunlight and vitamin D: a global perspective on health.

* Presse Santé strives to impart medical knowledge in a language accessible to all. In no way can the information provided replace medical advice.

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