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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.
The problem is compounded by other trends, such as an increase in indoor working. There are also other risk groups, such as older people in care homes, those who cover skin for religious reasons and people with dark skin, all of whom may have trouble synthesising enough vitamin D from the sun.
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 throughout the year.
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 throughout the year.
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 new 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.
This new 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:
For more detail about vitamin D's health benefits, see our vitamin D nutrient guide.
No pesticides are used, as the algae is grown in controlled conditions, and no harsh solvents are required. It is 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.
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Nothing beats a healthy, balanced diet to provide all the nutrients we need. But when this isn't possible, supplements can help. This article isn't intended to replace medical advice. Please consult your healthcare professional before trying supplements or herbal medicines.