Vitamin D2 and D3 Decoded

Published on October 02, 2014 by Jaime Thomas

Most people understand the importance of maintaining adequate vitamin D levels for optimal health. Some of the health problems linked with inadequate vitamin D levels include cardiovascular disease, diabetes, depression, osteoporosis, autoimmune disease and cancer. Exposure to the sun may be unreliable during winter and also increases the risk of causing damage to the skin. Therefore, vitamin D supplements are required by most of us to maintain optimal vitamin D levels. The two forms of vitamin D available in supplemental form are vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) and vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol).

Multiple Purposes for Vitamin D
Vitamin D deficiencies have been associated with blood pressure imbalances, increased auto-immune disorders, chronic pain, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), poor immunity, blood sugar imbalances, mood changes and even an increased risk of mortality by all causes. Studies also suggest that vitamin D has important immunological and antibacterial effects, and may be important for preventing infections and even the common cold.

How Can We Obtain Vitamin D?
When we are exposed to sunlight, D3 is the form that is naturally produced in our skin. D3 supplements have traditionally been non-vegan, usually they are created from lanolin (a product of sheep’s wool). Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) is the synthetic form of vitamin D present in many supplements and also the form made by yeast and fungi. More recently it was found that a microorganism (lichen) produces D3, which has led to vegan D3 supplements entering the marketplace. One area of debate has involved controversy over whether vitamin D2 and D3 are equivalent at raising blood vitamin D levels and bringing about the health benefits associated with vitamin D adequacy.

Vitamin D2 Versus Vitamin D3
Currently, the only other vegetarian alternative to vegetarian vitamin D3 is vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol). There are two problems with this: first, it is often sourced from soy, which is undesirable for many; second, vitamin D2 is not as well-absorbed as vitamin D3. Some of the most common source pre Vegan D3 include mushrooms, sun, full Spectrum, broad Spectrum or Blue Light Therapy, and vitamin D2 supplements.
Many studies have compared D2 and D3 directly; these studies suggest that vitamin D3 is a higher quality supplement than vitamin D2. It is important to note that the 25(OH)D number is not the only factor to consider when we compare the quality of the two forms of vitamin D; there are additional factors to consider. First, D3 has a longer half-life in the body and longer shelf life in supplements compared to D2. It seems that vitamin D3 is more readily converted than D2 to the active form of vitamin D, 1,25(OH)D. There is also evidence that the active form of D3 is more potent than that of D2; after conversion to the 1,25 form, some 1,25(OH)D2 is partially deactivated in the kidney, whereas 1,25(OH)D3 remains active. These differences in biological activity mean that starting with the same dose of D2 and D3, taking D3 would produce more active vitamin D in the body.

What Does Vegetarian D3 Mean?
Most vitamin D3 supplements are derived from sheep wool. While the animals are unharmed in this process, this source may not be suitable for vegans. Vitamin D can also be sourced from dried inactivated whole cell yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) which contains elevated levels of vitamin D. Subjected to UV-light under controlled conditions; the active yeast S. cerevisiae is able to produce Vitamin D2. In order to get D3 from this source, D3 sourced from lanolin is fed to the yeast. However, this form of vitamin D also cannot be classified as vegan.
AOR’s Vegan Vitamin D3 is the first vitamin D3 available in Canada from a truly vegan, non-animal, non-soy, non-GMO source. Another first from AOR.

A Truly Vegan Vitamin D3
Now that vegan D3 is now commercially available, everyone can utilize the more potent form of the vitamin. AOR’s Vegan Vitamin D3 is derived from harvested lichen. Lichens are plant-like substances made up of symbiotic fungi and, in this case, algae, which work together and depend on one another for survival in a mutually beneficial way. Lichens have been used for food, medicine and other purposes for thousands of years. The lichen used in this formula is sustainably harvested from multiple locations to achieve the highest quantity of vitamin D3 produced. After washing, the oily components are extracted from the lichen, leaving behind water-soluble components and naturally occurring acids. The oily extract is then purified and standardized for vitamin D3 content.

There’s no question that vitamin D is important in order to maintain a high level of health. Research has demonstrated that vitamin D3 is the form most preferred by the body. Fortunately, it is also now more convenient than ever to obtain vitamin D3 supplements, and specifically a vegan source of Vitamin D3. AOR’s unique Vegan Vitamin D3 formulation provides an optimal and sustainably sourced form of natural vitamin D3 from lichens.

Image by © vencav via DollarPhotoClub

  • Ravinder Darshi

    Thank you for a great article. Very informative!!!