Improved immunity: Vitamin D3 against D2

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According to a recent study, D2 and D3 can have different effects on the body. Marco Furia/EyeEm/Getty Images
  • Researchers recently studied the genetic effects of two forms of vitamin D: D2 and D3.
  • They found that vitamin D3 is linked to improved immune function, but its effects differ between ethnic groups.
  • They say further research with a larger sample size is needed to confirm their findings.

Vitamin D is essential for the maintenance bone healthcellular function and immune function.

Several studies show that low levels of vitamin D are linked to an increased risk of fractures, as well as the development of certain cancers, cardiovascular diseases and inflammatory diseases.

Of the two kinds of Vitamin Dvitamin D2, or ergocalciferol, is naturally present in plants and fungi, while D3, or cholecalciferol, is present in animal products.

Unlike vitamin D2, the body can produce vitamin D3 in the skin when exposed to UVB rays from the sun.

It is not known whether vitamin D2 and vitamin D3 have the same effect on human physiology. Although some studies suggest that long-term vitamin D2 and D3 supplementation have similar effects on blood levels of vitamin D, others report that D3 supplements lead to higher concentrations than D2 supplements.

During this time, a study found that vitamin D3 supplements are linked to reduced cancer mortality compared to vitamin D2 supplements. Another study found that D2 and D3 supplements have different effects on depression.

Research on how vitamin D2 and D3 supplements affect gene expression in humans is limited. Studying the underlying gene expression after supplementation with these variants could improve understanding of how they affect the body. This knowledge could improve supplement recommendations.

In a recent study, researchers investigated gene expression after vitamin D supplementation. They used data from a previously conducted study studythe D2-D3 study – which found that vitamin D3 increased overall vitamin D levels more than vitamin D2.

Following genetic analysis, researchers found that vitamin D3 and vitamin D2 affect different ethnic groups in distinct ways. They also found that vitamin D3 is linked to an improved immune system in Caucasians, while vitamin D2 is not.

The study appears in Frontiers in immunology.

The D2-D3 study included 335 women of South Asian or European origin. The researchers randomized these people into three intervention groups for 12 weeks. The groups received 15 micrograms of vitamin D2, vitamin D3 or a placebo each day.

The team selected 97 participants for genetic analysis, including 67 white participants and 30 of South Asian descent. The researchers performed genetic analysis at baseline and again 12 weeks after supplementation began.

At the end of the study, researchers noted that vitamin D levels in the vitamin D3 treatment group had increased by 59% and 166% in people of white ethnicity and southern descent. Asian, respectively.

Meanwhile, vitamin D3 levels fell 23% and 29% in those in the placebo group and 52% and 53% in those who took vitamin D2.

From genetic analysis, the researchers found that vitamin D2 and D3 supplementation reduced 13% of the same genes and only reduced 28% and 59%, respectively.

They also found that different types of vitamin D supplementation had different effects on different ethnicities.

While vitamin D3 supplementation stimulated both type I and type 2 interferon signaling in whites, the reverse was true for those of South Asian descent. Type 1 interferon signaling is crucial for the antiviral immune response, while type 2 interferon signaling is responsible for adaptive immunity and inflammatory regulation.

In contrast, vitamin D3 supplementation increased heme iron metabolism in people of South Asian descent, while the opposite effect occurred in white participants.

Nevertheless, researchers found that in white and South Asian individuals, vitamin D2 reduced signaling of type 1 and 2 interferons.

Dr. Micheal Snyder, Ph.D., chair of Stanford University’s Department of Genetics, who was not involved in the study, said Medical News Today:

“Although similar, they are indeed different molecules, and it is likely that they either bind to slightly different targets or to the same targets with different efficiencies. They are also metabolized differently.

The researchers note that the large difference in results between ethnicities could be partly due to the small sample sizes and the relatively lower levels of vitamin D at baseline for people of South Asian descent.

However, they say their findings highlight emerging evidence on how ethnicity, skin tone, vitamin D status and susceptibility to contracting a virus such as SARS-CoV-2 may influence the effects of supplementation.

The researchers conclude that vitamins D2 and D3 may have different physiological effects and that these may vary among different ethnicities.

They also note some limitations to their research. Dr Colin Smith, lead author of the study, said DTM that a larger sample of around 2,400 people is needed to verify the results and that it should include people from different ethnic groups. He added that future studies should also take into account changes in the composition of blood cells.

When asked how these results might influence how people take supplements, Dr. Snyder said people should start researching the exact molecules they’re taking because while different molecules may look alike, they will have different effects. He also noted that different supplements will affect individuals in different ways.

Dr Smith said: ‘We think health policy should change. The food industry should only add vitamin D3 to its products, avoiding vitamin D2. The health policy should specify the type of vitamin D that must be used in supplements and fortified foods: vitamin D3. »

He added that vegans, vegetarians and some religious groups who may use vitamin D2 supplements, because D3 supplements often come from animal products, should switch to vegan-friendly sources of vitamin D3.

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