Vitamin D2 is one of five different kinds of vitamin D and has been used as a supplement by people for decades. It is also known as ergocalciferol. Unlike vitamin D3, one of the other kinds of vitamin D, vitamin D2 is not soluble in water, but it will dissolve in solvents that are organic, such as fats. Most researchers believe that vitamin D2 is not as good of a source of vitamin D as vitamin D3 because it is less potent and less effective.
Typically, vitamin D2 is created synthetically from a type of mold called ergot mold, though other kinds of yeasts and molds can be used as well. Generally, it is produced when the mold is put under ultraviolet radiation in a laboratory setting. Under ultraviolet radiation, ergosterol, a substance in the mold, is converted to ergocalciferol, or vitamin D2.
There are several reasons why vitamin D2 is not used as a supplement in humans as often as it was several decades ago. For starters, it is believed to be less effective in humans because it does not bind to the receptors in the body tightly. Therefore, it is eliminated from the human body before the body has a chance to use it. In addition, some research has indicated that it is approximately 1/3 less potent than vitamin D3. As a result, people have turned more toward vitamin D3.
Vitamin D2 is not without merit, though. If a person were to consume 50,000 International Units of the vitamin per week for approximately two months, it may treat vitamin D deficiencies and related ailments, such as rickets. A person then could maintain his vitamin regimen, taking the supplements every two weeks without suffering from any side effects.
In general, vitamin D, even if only in the form of vitamin D2, is beneficial to people. It is believed that it can prevent bone fractures, multiple sclerosis, and even influenza. In addition, it used to treat osteoporosis. It is usually available in capsule form and is taken orally.
People who suffer from hypercalcemic conditions or disorders should consult a physician before taking any vitamin D supplement. All forms of vitamin D may increase the levels of calcium in the body. As a result, people must monitor their calcium levels and should use these supplements with care. Among the safest way to get a healthy dose of vitamin D is through sunlight, as long as exposure to the sun is moderate to prevent skin cancer.