Vitamin D2 vs. Vitamin D3
We often hear and talk about vitamin D, the so-called sunshine vitamin. Something not commonly discussed is that there is more than just one type of vitamin D —there’s vitamin D2 and vitamin D3.
What’s the Difference?
Vitamin D is produced by the body when exposed to sunshine, and it is essential for things like bone health and immune system function. But now that you know there are two types of vitamin D, you might be wondering what the difference is. Plants produce vitamin D2, and vitamin D3 is provided by our bodies when exposed to a certain amount of sunlight, but there is more to it.
Plants are also naturally stimulated by sunshine —UV rays— to produce vitamin D, which in this case, is called Vitamin D2. For example, dairy-free milk, such as coconut and almond milk, as well as mushrooms —all of which are grown under UV light, tend to have high levels of vitamin D2.
When you hear about how our bodies can produce vitamin D when exposed to sunlight —specifically UV rays— it is referring to Vitamin D3. It is the biologically active form of vitamin D found in the bodies of humans and animals. What happens behind the scenes is basically that our bodies react when the skin is exposed to sunlight and turns cholesterol into Vitamin D3. ????
Are Both Forms of Vitamin D Needed?
Yes, the body needs both forms of vitamin D. However, there is one that is more important than the other. Can you guess which one? *drumroll* If you guessed Vitamin D3, you are correct! Our bodies absorb it better, and it can more effectively help treat diseases. It is important to note that research has shown that Vitamin D3 is responsible for maintaining levels of Vitamin D where they need to be, even during the winter.
Since the skin’s exposure to sunlight is significantly less during the winter months, it is vital to supplement your vitamin D3 intake. Adding foods (certain animal products) to your diet with high levels of this vitamin can do this.