© Stuart M Bennett 2002


Vitamin D and its analogues are a group of sterol compounds that occur naturally, chiefly in animals. It can also be found in plants and yeasts. The D vitamins are generated from the provitamins ergosterol and 7-dehydrocholesterol, which are found in plants and animals.

Ultraviolet irridiation of a variety of this animal and plant sterols results in the conversion of provitamins to compounds with vitamin D activity. Ergosterol, which is derived from plants, can be converted into ergocalciferol otherwise known as calciferol (vitamin D2) with the aid of ultraviolet irridiation (see diagram below). For instance, vitamin D was once made available in commercial quantities when vitamin D2 was manufactured by irridiation of ergosterol derived from yeast.

Chemical Name (IUPAC): (5Z,7E,22E)-(3S)-9,10-secoergosta-5,7,10(19),22-tetraen-3-ol

Chemical Formula: C28H44O

Chemical Structure:

LD50/LC50: Check out the information on the Cholecalciferol page.

The cholecalciferol page also mentions the reaction of sunlight which has to be carefully watched when treating poisoning by vitamin D2 and D3, the reaction is below.


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