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Eur J Clin Nutr. 2015 Jun;69(6):697-702. doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2015.16. Epub 2015 Mar 18.

Vitamin D3 seems more appropriate than D2 to sustain adequate levels of 25OHD: a pharmacokinetic approach.

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Laboratorio de Enfermedades Metabólicas Óseas, INIGEM-CONICET-UBA, Hospital de Clínicas, Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Segunda Cátedra de Farmacología, Facultad de Medicina, Universidad de Buenos, Buenos Aires, Argentina.



The superiority of cholecalciferol (D3) over ergocalciferol (D2) in sustaining serum 25-hydroxy vitamin D (25OHD) levels is controversial. To compare D2 with D3 we performed a single-blind, placebo-controlled randomized trial spanning 11 weeks.


Healthy volunteers (n=33, aged 33.4±6 years) were divided into three groups (n=11, each): D2, D3 and placebo. Treatment started with a loading dose (100,000 IU) followed by 4800 IU/day (d) between d7 and d20 and follow-up until d77. Serum samples were obtained at baseline and at days 3, 7, 14, 21, 35, 49, 63 and 77.


Baseline 25OHD values in the D2 group were lower than those in the D3 and placebo groups (P<0.01). Placebo 25OHD levels never changed. As after the loading dose both D2 and D3 groups had reached similar 25OHD levels, we tested equivalence of the area under the concentration × time curve (AUC) between d7 and d77. The AUC was 28.6% higher for D3 compared with D2, and both were higher with respect to placebo. At d77, D2 25OHD levels were higher than those at baseline, but similar to placebo; both were lower than D3 (P<0.04). According to raw data, the elimination half-life of 25OHD was 84 and 111 days under D2 and D3 supplementation, respectively; after subtracting the placebo values, the corresponding figures were 33 and 82 days.


D2 and D3 were equally effective in elevating 25OHD levels after a loading dose. In the long term, D3 seems more appropriate for sustaining 25OHD, which could be relevant for classic and non-classic effects of vitamin D.

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