Prescription or OTCLower-cost generic availableClass: Musculoskeletal

Vitamin D3 Alternatives

(cholecalciferol)

Prescription or OTCLower-cost generic availableClass: Musculoskeletal
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Compare Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) to alternatives

These medications are comparable to Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) or used for similar purposes.

Vitamin D3
(cholecalciferol)

Vitamin D2
(ergocalciferol)

Raises Vitamin D levels. Vitamin D3 (Cholecalciferol) works well for vitamin D deficiencies and is available over the counter. It absorbs better than vitamin D2, but it's animal-based so vegetarians and vegans might not want to take it.Raises Vitamin D levels. Vitamin D2 (Ergocalciferol) works for vitamin D deficiencies and is available over the counter, but your body doesn't absorb it as well as Vitamin D3.
Reviews & ratings
Filter group. All currently selected
Filter group. All currently selected
4.96Vitamin D3
Reviews for Vitamin D3
61%
of people (All ages) say Vitamin D3 is worth it
39%
say it works well
7%
say it's a big hassle
1142 reviews
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Have you used Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol)?
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Side effects
Vitamin D3Vitamin D2

The Vitamin D3 FDA package insert doesn’t have numbers about how common side effects are.

More about Vitamin D3 side effects »

We haven’t found good data for Vitamin D2 side effects.

FDA side effect reports for Vitamin D2 »
How it works
Vitamin D3Vitamin D2
Vitamin D3 (Cholecalciferol) is a form of Vitamin D. It raises Vitamin D levels in your blood. This in turn raises calcium levels in your blood by helping you absorb more calcium from food in your intestine.Vitamin D2 (Ergocalciferol) is a form of Vitamin D. It raises Vitamin D levels in your blood. This in turn raises calcium levels in your blood by helping you absorb more calcium from food in your intestine.
Type of medication
Vitamin D3Vitamin D2
Prescription or OTCPrescription or OTC
Available as
Vitamin D3Vitamin D2
  • Pill
  • Pill
  • Liquid capsule
  • Liquid
Used for
Vitamin D3Vitamin D2
    Risk factors for serious side effects
    Vitamin D3Vitamin D2
      Detailed Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) risks & warnings »
        Detailed Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) risks & warnings »
        Pregnancy

        The FDA hasn’t classified this medicine’s effects on unborn babies. Talk with your doctor about this medicine if you’re pregnant or planning on it.

        Research studies with animals found harmful effects on unborn babies. It hasn’t been properly studied in humans. The benefits might outweigh the risks even if you’re pregnant. Talk with your doctor.

        Pain
        Vitamin D3Vitamin D2
        • Call your doctor if you notice a metallic taste in your mouth, muscle or joint pain, headache or sleepiness.
        • Call your doctor if you notice a metallic taste in your mouth, muscle or joint pain, headache or sleepiness.
        Upsides and benefits
        Vitamin D3Vitamin D2
        • Available in generic and over the counter.
        • Available in oral solution, tablet, and capsules.
        • You can take it as a once-a-day or once-a-week medication.
        • This version of vitamin D is better absorbed by the body than vitamin D2.
        • Effective for vitamin D deficiencies.
        • Available in generic and over the counter.
        • This is the plant-based version of vitamin D, so it's useful for vegetarians.
        • Available in oral solution, tablet and capsules.
        • You can take this as a once a day or once a week medication.
        Downsides and risks
        Vitamin D3Vitamin D2
        • This is an animal-based version of vitamin D, so vegetarians and vegans may not be comfortable with taking this supplement.
        • Your body doesn't absorb Vitamin D2 as well as Vitamin D3.
        Tips from our pharmacists for people taking the medication
        Vitamin D3Vitamin D2
        • Don't take other forms of vitamin D unless your doctor tells you to.
        • Make sure to take at least 600 to 1200 mg of calcium per day.
        • Call your doctor if you notice a metallic taste in your mouth, muscle or joint pain, headache or sleepiness.
        • If you're using the drops, you can place it directly into the mouth, or mix with food, water or juice.
        • If you're using the spray, spray it under the tongue.
        • Call your doctor if you notice a metallic taste in your mouth, muscle or joint pain, headache or sleepiness.
        • Don't take other forms of vitamin D unless told to by your doctor.
        • Make sure to take at least 600 to 1200 mg of calcium per day.
        • Some forms of this medication are taken only once a week, others are taken once a day. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if you're not sure.
        Learn more
        More about Vitamin D3Side effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert
        Have you used Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol)?
        Worth itNot sureNot worth it
        More about Vitamin D2Side effectsReviews & ratingsFDA package insert
        Have you used Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol)?
        Worth itNot sureNot worth it