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Animal vegetable vitamin

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A new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutritional suggests that vitamin D intake needs to be modified so that public health recommendations include nutritional sources of vitamin D (D3) from meat and fish rather than plant based vitamin D (D2).

There have been conflicting views as to whether nutrition from vitamin D2 and D3 were different, with nutritional scientists thinking both forms of the vitamin are “biologically equivalent”.

The double blind placebo study showed that a significant increase in D3 was absorbed when compared to D2. It was undertaken in conjunction with Division of Health Sciences, School of Population Health, University of South Australia by was the largest of its kind to be undertaken.

The study was run during the winter months to exclude any effects of sunlight exposure on vitamin D levels.

Vitamin D levels in women who received vitamin D3 from juice or a biscuit increased their vitamin D levels from their baseline measurements by around 75 per cent, whereas those given vitamin D2 had an average increase in vitamin D levels of around 33 per cent over the course of the 12-week intervention.

As expected, participants who were in the placebo group saw their vitamin D levels fall by a quarter.

Vitamin D is a hormone that controls calcium levels in the blood. It is needed to develop and maintain healthy bones, muscles and teeth and is also important for general health. In Australia Vitamin D occurs naturally in fish and eggs, while margarine and some types of milk have added vitamin D. 

The National Cancer Council of Australia notes a balance is required between excessive sun exposure that increases the risk of skin cancer and enough sun exposure to maintain adequate vitamin D levels. Short periods (of a few minutes) of sun exposure may be more efficient at producing vitamin D than long periods.