Rethinking vitamin D guidance

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Worldwide health authorities are being urged to rethink official guidance around vitamin D following the publication of a ground breaking study from the University of Surrey, which dispels the myth that vitamin D2 and D3 have the same nutritional value.

In the first ever study of its kind, using low doses of vitamin D in fortified food, researchers from the University of Surrey investigated which of the two types of vitamin D, D2 or D3, was more effective in raising levels of this vital nutrient in the body. Vitamin D3 is derived from animal products, while D2 is plant-based.

Researchers examined the vitamin D levels of 335 South Asian and white European women over two consecutive winter periods, a time when the nutrient is known to be lacking in the body. The women were split into five groups, with each group receiving either a placebo, a juice containing vitamin D2 or D3 and a biscuit with D2 or D3.

 They found that vitamin D3 was twice as effective in raising levels of the vitamin in the body than its counterpart D2. Vitamin D levels in women who received vitamin D3 via juice or a biscuit increased by 75 per cent and 74 per cent respectively compared to those who were given D2 through the same methods. Those given D2 saw an increase of 33 per cent and 34 per cent over the course of the 12-week intervention.

 The research also found that nutrient levels of both vitamin D2 and D3 rose as a result of both food and acidic beverages such as juice, which were found to be equally as effective.

 Those who received the placebo experienced a 25 per cent reduction in the vitamin over the same period.

 Current guidance given by a number of Government bodies around the world including the US National Institute of Health, state that the two forms of vitamin D are equivalent and can be used to equal effect.

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