Vitamin D2, or Ergocalciferol, is one of the most important forms of Vitamin D. Vitamin D is essential to humans for its ability to help with normal bone growth. Vitamin D2 is a fat-soluble sterol, which is an organic molecule that is found in plants and yeast. A vitamin D deficiency can lead to diseases like rickets in children and osteomalacia–softening of the bones–in adults.
In the 1920s, vitamin D2 was discovered through exposing invertebrates, such as fungi or plants, to ultraviolet. Pharmaceutical companies patented the process. Vitamin D2 is not made naturally in vertebrates, or animals with an internal skeletal system. Vitamin D2 is better than vitamin D3 at absorbing ultraviolet radiation. It is white in color and is not soluble in water but in organic solvents and vegetable oil.
Vitamin D2 helps ensures the absorption of calcium happens in the body producing healthy bones, teeth and to help fight high blood pressure. Vitamin D2 may also help in the fight against osteoporosis and autoimmune diseases. Rickets today is often due to problems with the body’s absorption of vitamin D, diseases of the liver and kidney, or conditions that alter calcium in the body.
The recommended dose for vitamin D2 is 5 micrograms daily. Most multivitamins have the recommended daily allowance of vitamin D included in them. Luckily, Vitamin D is available in plentiful supply, from natural sources that are inexpensive, and even free.
Much of this requirement can be fulfilled by eating small portions of fatty fish. Grandmothers recommended cod liver oil for years for a reason–it’s packed with vitamins. Just one tablespoon provides 1360 IU of vitamin D, more than three times the daily requirement for most adults. Eggs are nature’s perfect food. Besides being packed with protein and good fats, they’re also a good source of vitamin D. But it’s all in the yolk, so go with the whole egg to get 20 IU.
Recent studies have suggested that vitamin D2 is not as efficient as vitamin D3 in biological value and its use in multivitamins should stop. Because vitamin D2 is manufactured, its stability and longevity is questionable. This can lead to issues with toxicity and loss of vitamin D concentration over time.