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Vitamin D2 vs. Vitamin D3: Difference and Which Do You Need?

Find out which one is effective for you!

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Vitamin D2 and Vitamin D3 are just two of the plethora of vitamin supplements in the market today. And as more people prioritize their overall health due to the global pandemic, it can be confusing to know which one of the two to take, along with other vitamin supplements you might be taking already. And if you are taking a multivitamin, do you still need a supplementary one?

Let's delve into the difference between these two vitamin supplements and understand which one you need.

Vitamin D: The Sunshine Supplement


By definition, Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that helps your body absorb calcium and phosphorus to make your bones and teeth stronger. Since Vitamin D is derived from the sun, insufficient sun exposure (such as while mostly staying indoors during a global pandemic) can lead to low Vit D levels. Yes, that is right: our bodies can produce Vitamin D, one of the thirteen vitamins our bodies can produce. When the human body is exposed to ultraviolet energy from the sunlight, the ultraviolet energy reacts to 7-dehydrocholesterol, a form of cholesterol in the skin. The process then produces Vitamin D3, which is another form of the vitamin. From there, it travels to the liver and kidneys and then undergoes further conversions. The result is active Vitamin D (1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D, or calcitriol).

While it makes sense to get your much-needed Vitamin D from just a few minutes of exposure to sunlight, can you also get it from food? Surprisingly, even with a good diet, it can be hard to get your recommended daily intake of Vitamin D from food. Fish and shellfish (the oilier, the better) are ideal food sources for Vitamin D. However, you'll probably balk at the idea of consuming, say, 7 ounces of halibut, 5 ounces of salmon, or two 8-ounce fish cans, and then double the portions just to hit the daily recommended intake.

But the benefits of taking Vitamin D daily ensure a long, healthy, and youthful life. Vitamin D with calcium has helped many patients who suffer from osteoporosis or bone loss. Those suffering from hypoparathyroidism, pseudohypoparathyroidism, or familial hypophosphatemia, can absorb calcium or phosphate more efficiently when taken in combination with Vitamin D. Moreover, researchers have also shown that Vitamin D reduces the risk of getting potentially fatal illnesses, including prostate cancer, muscular weakness, and falling, heart disease.

But what kind of vitamin D should you take to get the most out of it for your body?

Which Is Which? Vitamin D2 and Vitamin D3

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Vitamin D has two major types, and they are different because of their origins, how the body metabolizes them, and what they are prescribed for.

Vitamin D2, also known as ergocalciferol, is commonly found in plant sources and fortified supplements. Vitamin D3 is found in animal sources like oily fish, fish oil, liver, egg yolk, and butter.

Vitamin D2 and D3 are also metabolized differently by the liver. When your body takes in Vitamin D2, it breaks down into 25-hydroxyvitamin D2. Vitamin D3 metabolizes into 25-hydroxyvitamin D3. Both 25-hydroxyvitamin D2 and 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 are known collectively as calcifediol, the primary circulating form of Vitamin D.

Most doctors will prescribe a generic Vitamin D supplement with at least 50,000 units or 2000 IU to treat Vitamin D-deficiency illnesses. However, some doctors will go as far as measuring your calcifediol levels and prescribe whichever vitamin D compound is lacking. Otherwise, experts suggest that you take Vitamin D3, as your body already naturally produces it, and it is only a matter of replenishing it if you are Vitamin D-deficient. Vitamin D3 is also recommended for older women, as their bodies may not be able to metabolize the needed nutrients to keep their calcifediol levels up.

How To Improve Your Vitamin D Levels

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But if you are just looking to get your Vitamin D levels up, mainly because you are not getting enough sunlight, you can supplement in various ways.

One way is by introducing food items in your diet that boost your Vitamin D levels: Eat mushrooms that grow in ultraviolet light, or eat fatty fish at least twice a week. You can also look into drinking milk or orange juice that has been fortified with Vitamin D. Eggs and butter are a great breakfast combination. If you don't get that much sunlight where you live, try sparing at least ten to fifteen minutes walking outside early in the morning for optimum sunlight without harsh ultraviolet rays.

If you opt to take a Vitamin D supplement, don't exceed the safe, daily intake of 4,000 IU (100 micrograms). Going higher might present problems, especially for those who already have Vitamin D deficiency-related illnesses.

Ritual.com understands the science and the conclusive research about the benefits of Vitamin D in our bodies. They believe that it is important to know all supplements' and multivitamins' sourced ingredients and their origins, especially due to the abundance of supplements on the market today. Ritual.com sustainably sources their ingredients and ensures that people will know what they are introducing into their bodies when taking their supplements. For the Vitamin D component of their Essential Multivitamin, they use Vitashine™, a certified vegan D3 ingredient sustainably sourced from lichen, instead of sheep's wool or fish liver oil or similar components used in other fish oil and Vitamin D supplements.

Moreover, the guesswork for your Vitamin D daily intake has been taken care of for you. Each multivitamin inside an Essential for Women, Essential for Men, and even Essential for Kids bottle contains not only the daily recommended intake of Vitamin D but also your recommended daily intake of other vitamins and minerals including Omega-3, folate, Vitamin B12, Magnesium, Iron, Vitamin E, Zinc, Vitamin A and Vitamin C.

Get your safe daily recommended Vitamin D intake and more with the Essential Multivitamin at Ritual.com.

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