Thinking About Taking Vitamin D? Check The Type, Experts Say

Megan Ray  |  June 4, 2012

Vitamin D has been proven to have a positive effect on bone health for seniors, but a new study shows that the type of supplement taken makes a difference.

The research, conducted by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, found that vitamin D3 supplements, which are derived from animal products like fish and eggs, could provide more of a benefit than its close relative, vitamin D2. D2 is the type of vitamin usually added to foods that are "fortified with vitamin D," but the study found that the body more effectively converts vitamin D3 to reap the health benefits.

"We know that vitamin D is vital in helping to keep us fit and healthy, but what has not been clear is the difference between the two types of vitamin D," said lead study author Dr. Laura Trikovic. "It used to be thought that both were equally beneficial, however our analysis highlights that our bodies may react differently to both types and that vitamin D3 could actually be better for us."

More seniors and their caregivers may be considering a vitamin D supplement as more research comes out about the boost this nutrient can give to muscles and bones, with the potential to improve senior living for older adults with joint issues. In fact, a 2009 study found that a daily dose of vitamin D could reduce the risk of falling in seniors, USA Today reports.

That study, published in the online edition of BMJ, found that taking between 700 and 1,000 international units of vitamin D2 or D3 reduced the risk of falling by 19 percent, while taking a supplement of pure vitamin D3 reduced falls by as much as 26 percent, the news outlet reports. 

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