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Is vitamin D3 or vitamin D2 better?

Known to promote the absorption of calcium, fat-soluble vitamin D also helps with bone growth and immune stability. This is why many people often incorporate additional supplements and vitamin-D-rich food into their diet. This vitamin comes in two primary forms: D2 (ergocalciferol) and D3 (cholecalciferol).

Vitamin D2 usually costs less to manufacture, and it’s typically the most common in fortified food and easily accessible. D3 can be found naturally in a variety of foods and is the main circulating source of vitamin D.

What does vitamin D3 do?

Vitamin D3

Vitamin D3 is the most natural form of vitamin D and is only found in food sourced from animals. The human body can produce D3 on its own via sunlight absorption, but that is not enough for most people. Eating D3-rich food such as liver, eggs, butter, and fatty fish can help maintain healthy vitamin D levels.

Additionally, taking fish oil supplements or traditional vitamin D supplements can greatly benefit your health. These products can range in price from $12-$50.

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  • Increased bone density
  • Vitamin D3 has been known to increase strength in the upper and lower parts of the body.
  • Various studies have shown that vitamin D3 contributes to healthier stress levels and helps decrease anxiety and depression.
  • Keeps blood sugar levels under control
  • Inexpensive to purchase


If you consume too much vitamin D3, you may experience the following symptoms and side effects:

  • Elevated blood calcium levels
  • Excessive thirst
  • Digestive upsets such as diarrhea and constipation
  • Fatigue and dizziness
  • Kidney function decrease

How to incorporate vitamin D3 into your life

You can incorporate vitamin D3 into your life in many ways. Spend time in the sun (with sunscreen, of course) and include mushrooms, egg yolks, and fatty fish such as sardines and salmon into your diet. Alternatively, supplements are the best way to ensure your body gets enough D3. UV lamps are also becoming popular, but they are expensive.

What does Vitamin D2 do?

Vitamin D2

Vitamin D2 comes primarily from plant-based sources and fortified foods. It is used in medical prescriptions rather than vitamin D3 because the ergocalciferol found in D2 aids in treating hyperparathyroidism and hypophosphatemia. Vitamin D2 supplements and ergocalciferol drops can range in price from $7-$35.

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  • Helps your body maintain the right amount of phosphorus and calcium
  • Helps prevent low vitamin D levels
  • Can strengthen bone and tooth density
  • Assists with medical treatment of hyperparathyroidism, rickets, and hypophosphatemia
  • Products such as ergocalciferol drops can give you the same benefits as direct sunlight without the harmful side effects of ultraviolet light.


If you consume too much vitamin D2, you may experience the following symptoms and side effects:

  • Chest pain
  • Weakness
  • Metallic taste in your mouth
  • Rapid weight loss
  • Muscle pain
  • Vomiting

Vitamin D2 supplements aren’t as popular or as common as vitamin D3 and can be harder to find in general pharmaceutical stores. If you take certain medications such as a diuretic or mineral oil, speak with your primary care physician on how to take vitamin D2 so it won’t affect how those medicines help your body.

How to incorporate vitamin D2 into your life

In addition to taking oils and other supplements, adding vitamin D2 into your daily routine is as easy as consuming fortified food such as yogurt and milk. Mushrooms also are naturally high in D2, and studies have shown that concentrated orange juice and cocoa-based foods contain substantial amounts.

Should you get vitamin D3 or vitamin D2?

While both vitamin D3 and D2 have great benefits, vitamin D2 is mainly used for therapeutic circumstances, while vitamin D3 is the go-to for supplements and maintaining quality health. Studies have indicated that vitamin D3 is better at raising vitamin D levels than D2, and some scientists claim that vitamin D2 supplements are of lower quality than D3.

Overall, both vitamin D3 and D2 have pros and cons, but ultimately, it comes down to what your body needs. If you suffer from a condition such as hyperparathyroidism or rickets, then vitamin D2 prescriptions are ideal. If your body is vitamin D deficient and needs additional help, using D3 supplements makes more sense.

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Hannah Shemke writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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