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Vegan Vitamin D3: how is it made and what are the benefits?

Rebecca Lane
Article written by Rebecca Lane

Date published 23 June 2020

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Vitamin D is essential for our health, supporting bones, teeth, muscles and the immune system. The most effective vitamin D form, vitamin D3, is normally sourced from sheep's wool, but Healthspan now has a Vegan Vitamin D3 product made from a low-CO2 plant source.

Vitamin D is vital, but it's not always easy to get your daily amount in colder countries such as the UK. Vitamin D is made by the skin on contact with sunlight. According to the NHS, you can get your daily dose of vitamin D from being outside for short periods of time, without sunscreen, from April through to September.

However, at other times of year the sun may not be strong enough: many don't get enough vitamin D without supplements and fortified foods, especially in winter. As a rule, if your shadow is longer than you are tall, you won't be producing enough vitamin D from your skin.

Indeed, vitamin D deficiency is common: the National Diet and Nutrition Survey found that one in five people aged 19 to 64, one in six aged 65 and over, and a quarter of children aged 11 to 18 had low vitamin D levels.

As a result, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommends that all adults in the UK take a daily supplement containing 400IU (10mcg) of vitamin D from October to March.

Vitamin D2 vs D3

Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) is the form most important for human health, and is the best form to take as a supplement. Previously, Healthspan's vitamin D3 was all sourced from lanolin, which comes from sheep's wool.

Traditionally, vitamin D sourced from plants has been the D2 form (ergocalciferol). This has a slightly different structure to vitamin D3, which makes it less beneficial for maintaining vitamin D levels in the body.1

The researchers behind Healthspan's Vegan Vitamin D3 worked with several universities and research groups to develop a scalable process to produce Vitamin D3 from a 100% plant source. This not only makes the supplements suitable for vegans, but also cuts down the carbon produced during the production process.

Most vitamin D3 is produced from lanolin, which comes from wool, which comes from CO2-producing sheep

Sheep to wool to lanolin

Vegan Vitamin D3 comes from algae grown in controlled conditions, with minimal environmental impact

Illustration of how vegan vitamin D3 is made with algae

Does Vegan Vitamin D3 have the same benefits?

The vegan source of vitamin D3 comes from algae, with no animals involved in the process. It still produces the most body-ready form of vitamin D3, cholecalciferol, but it's also non-GMO (genetically modified), sustainably produced, and is registered with the Vegan Society and Vegetarian Society. It's also Kosher and Halal certified.

There is a long list of approved health benefits for vitamin D. These include:

  • Contributes to normal absorption and utilisation of calcium and phosphorus
  • Contributes to normal blood calcium levels
  • Contributes to the maintenance of normal bones
  • Contributes to the maintenance of normal muscle function
  • Contributes to the maintenance of normal teeth
  • Contributes to the normal function of the immune system
  • Has a role in the process of cell division
  • Helps to reduce the risk of falling associated with postural instability and muscle weakness (falling is a risk factor for bone fractures among men and women 60 years of age and older)
  • Is needed for normal growth and development of bone in children
  • Contributes to the normal function of the immune system in children

For more detail about vitamin D's health benefits, see our vitamin D nutrient guide.

How sustainable is the algae-based process?

No pesticides are used, as the algae is grown in controlled conditions, and no harsh solvents are required. It's a very low-energy process and can easily be scaled up, as algae grows so rapidly. What's more, 'waste' algae can be reused in the next round of algae growth, contributing to the efficiency of the process.

Super Strength Vitamin D3 Vegan Friendly pack

Super Strength Vitamin D3 – Vegan friendly

For healthy bones, teeth, muscles and immunity

  • 25mcg vitamin D per tablet
  • Helps keep bones, teeth and muscles healthy, and supports immunity
  • Formulation sourced from algae for vegan and plant-based diets
Shop now

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Rebecca Lane

About Rebecca Lane

Rebecca Lane is a content writer and editor at Healthspan.