Vitamin D is an important nutrient that your body requires to regulate the calcium and phosphorus levels of our blood. It is also known as the sunshine vitamin as exposure to sunlight converts the cholesterol present in the skin to Vitamin D. Sun exposure is the best source of Vitamin D but you can also derive it from foods like eggs, cod fish, soy milk and mushrooms. “Vitamin D refers to a group of several different forms of this vitamin. For instance, sterols in lipids of animals (7-dehydrocholesterol) are converted to Vitamin D3 and those in plants (ergosterols) are converted to Vitamin D2,” explains Consultant Nutritionist Dr. Rupali Datta.
According to the current guidelines followed by most of the health organisation around the world including the US National Institute of Health, the two forms of Vitamin D – D3 and D2 are equally beneficial for our health. But a new study refutes this understanding and claims that not all types of Vitamin D are made equal and Vitamin D3 is twice as important for your health as Vitamin D2.
Researchers from the University of Surrey have urged health authorities to change their current guidelines after having found that Vitamin D3 which is derived from animal products such as eggs and fatty fish and also the made by our skin is more essential than Vitamin D2 obtained plant-based sources like mushrooms. Their findings suggests that consumption of animal products and moderate exposure to sunlight help in obtaining Vitamin D3 which is twice as likely to raise your overall Vitamin D levels as compared to Vitamin D2 rich foods.
For the study, researchers recorded vitamin D levels of 335 South Asian and white European women over two consecutive winter periods. The study participants were spilt into five groups. Each group received a placebo, a juice containing vitamin D2 or D3 and a biscuit with D2 or D3. The results showed that the vitamin D levels in womenwho received vitamin D3 juice or biscuit increased by 75 per cent and 74 per cent respectively while those who were given vitamin D2 saw an increase of only 33 to 34 per cent over the course of the 12-weeks. The study will be published in July’s edition of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
“Vitamin D3 is primarily involved in the maintenance of calcium and phosphorus balance in our body. Total Vitamin D is measured in micrograms. The Indian Council of Medical Research recommends supplementation of 10 micrograms per day in case of minimal exposure to sun,” says Dr. Rupali Datta.