Recent research has shown significant differences in the effects of vitamin D2, with vitamin D2 having a questionable effect on human health. The study revealed that vitamin D3 can balance immune systems and strengthen defenses against viral infections like Covid-19.
Researchers from the Universities of Surrey & Brighton conducted a joint study to determine the effects of vitamin D supplements on gene activity in blood. This was done over a 12-week period.
Contrary to popular belief, the research team found that vitamin D3 and vitamin D2 had different effects. The researchers found evidence that vitamin D3 could have a protective effect on the immune system, which could help protect against bacterial and viral diseases.
Professor Colin Smith, the University of Surrey’s lead author of the study, stated that he began the work at the University of Brighton.
“We have shown that vitamin D3 appears to stimulate the type I interferon signalling system in the body – a key part of the immune system that provides a first line of defence against bacteria and viruses. Thus, a healthy vitamin D3 status may help prevent viruses and bacteria from gaining a foothold in the body.”
“Our study suggests that it is important that people take a vitamin D3 supplement, or suitably fortified foods, especially in the winter months.”
Some foods, such as bread and breakfast cereals, are supplemented with vitamin D. However, very few foods naturally contain the vitamin. Vitamin D3 is naturally produced in the skin by sunlight and artificial UVB light. However, some plants and fungi also produce vitamin D2.
Because they live in areas where the sun is less intense in winter, such as the UK, many people lack adequate vitamin D3. People spending more time indoors has resulted in a decrease in natural sunlight exposure.
Professor Susan Lanham New, coauthor of the study, and Head of Department of Nutritional Sciences at University of Surrey, stated:
“While we found that vitamin D2 and vitamin D3 do not have the same effect on gene activity within humans, the lack of impact we found when looking at vitamin D2 means that a larger study is urgently required to clarify the differences in the effects. However, these results show that vitamin D3 should be the favoured form for fortified foods and supplements.”