Should I take vitamin D or D3?

August 1, 2014

Find out what the difference between vitamins D and D3 is and whether or not you should be adding one of these supplements to your diet.

Should I take vitamin D or D3?

What is vitamin D?

First, a few words on vitamin D (which includes, of course, the vitamins D2 and D3). It is unique in that the skin directly synthesizes it from the sun’s ultraviolet rays. It plays an essential role in the health of our teeth and bones throughout our lives, and that’s vitamin D or D3 are essential for overall health.

The sun is not enough

The sun doesn’t supply all the vitamin D our bodies require. According to health experts, a healthy adult can only absorb only 80 to 90 per cent of the vitamin D from exposing the upper arms and face to the sun for 10 to 15 minutes two or three times a week, without using any sunblock. Any more than that and you run the risk of sunburn. That means we need to supplement with foods rich in vitamin D3, such as milk, enriched soya beverages, tuna, salmon, and trout.

Winter changes everything

An additional problem is that the required exposure is highly variable in a Canadian climate. In winter, for example, prolonged exposure to the sun is rare for most people, since we’re all covered up. So, unless you live on a tropical island, you should take vitamin D or D3 from October to April, if not all year long.

The proper dosage

  • In general, people under the age of 50 and who are healthy can take a 400- to 1,000-IU daily supplement of vitamin D and should have a daily intake of 1,200 mg of calcium (through diet and supplements).
  • People ages 50 and over can take 800 to 2,000 IU of vitamin D daily. They should also be getting 1,200 mg of calcium a day through diet and supplements.

Other recommendations

Some sources advocate a daily supplement of 1,000 IU over the fall and winter, while others recommend a daily dosage of 2,000 to 4,000 IU instead. Keep in mind that the recommended dosage will be different for people suffering from osteoporosis or from diseases that prevent the absorption of vitamin D.

Your doctor knows!

If you’re confused about  the dosage question and if you don’t know if you should take vitamin D or D3, the wise thing to do is to discuss it with a healthcare professional at the medical clinic or pharmacy.

The material on this website is provided for entertainment, informational and educational purposes only and should never act as a substitute to the advice of an applicable professional. Use of this website is subject to our terms of use and privacy policy.
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