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, Public Health England recommends that everyone takes a vitamin D supplement from October to March, and also through the spring and summer if you are spending a lot of time indoors.
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 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.