If you’re looking for Vitamin D supplements, you’re likely familiar with Vitamin D3.
You may have read in Amazon reviews that Vitamin D3 supplements are made from Lanolin and wondering — is Vitamin D3 from Lanolin safe?
Before we answer this, let’s understand what is Lanolin, where it comes from, and how it’s used to make Vitamin D.
If you’re considering a vegan lifestyle, or you already are vegan and looking to take Vitamin D supplements, this article is for you.
I’ll dive deep into the science, manufacturing process, and research to help you understand how Vitamin D3 is made from Lanolin.
I’ll also introduce a great vegan alternative Lichen, how it’s made and help you decide what to choose.
Is Vitamin D3 From Lanolin Safe?
Yes, Vitamin D from Lanolin is safe to consume.
It’s approved by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) and FSA (Foods Standards Agency) as a form of Vitamin D3 that’s safe for human consumption.
There are ethical concerns around the production of Lanolin from sheep’s wool and it’s not suitable for people who live a vegan lifestyle.
A vegan alternative Lichen is also now available.
Difference Between Vitamin D2 And D3?
Have you tried to buy over-the-counter Vitamin D and got confused when the pharmacist asked you if you wanted Vitamin D2 or D3?
Or tried to buy it on Amazon and couldn’t quite figure out what to get?
I have in the past so I researched it and spoke to doctors and specialists.
Vitamin D is the name of a chemical family comprising many compounds. But the most important is Vitamin D2 and D3.
Vitamin D2 (called ergocalciferol) is the variant of Vitamin D that comes from plants like mushrooms. But, how do mushrooms have Vitamin D you may ask?
When button mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms, and oyster mushrooms are exposed to industrial ultraviolet (UV) light, the level of ergocalciferol in their skin increases.
This is then used to make Vitamin D2 supplements.
This type of Vitamin D is not the same as the one produced by your skin. But more on this in a bit.
Vitamin D3 (called cholecalciferol) is the variant of Vitamin D that’s actually produced by your skin from sunlight.
When UVB rays from the sun interact with a protein in your skin (7-dehydrocholesterol), it produces a form of pre-Vitamin D3.
It then goes through chemical reactions in your liver and kidneys to produce an active bioavailable form of Vitamin D.
Besides your skin producing Vitamin D3, food from animals like oily fish, liver, egg yolk are good sources of Vitamin D3.
Supplements produced from Lanolin are also a source of Vitamin D3.
Important Note — Vitamin D2 vs D3
There are many cheap Vitamin D supplements on the market that are made from D2 instead of D3.
But, Vitamin D2 is not well absorbed by the body so it’s best to avoid it and take D3.
A research study published by Creighton University in Charleston, South Carolina mentions
Vitamin D2 potency is less than one third that of vitamin D3. Physicians resorting to use of vitamin D2 should be aware of its markedly lower potency and shorter duration of action relative to vitamin D3.
How Is Vitamin D3 Made From Lanolin?
So let’s learn a bit about the Lanolin manufacturing process and see if Vitamin D3 from Lanolin is safe.
I spoke to Ted Burney, Founder of G2 Naturals one of the leading manufacturers of Vitamin D supplements in the UK to find out more.
Here’s what Ted said.
“Once the sheep are grown and mature, they are restrained and the wool is sheared from their skin.
Extracted wool is then washed in hot water with a detergent and undergoes a scouring process.
This is to remove any parasites, faeces or other material and produce the Crude Lanolin.
Now, the fatty component of Crude Lanolin needs to be separated from the non-fatty component.
It’s done via a process called saponification.
The fatty part is removed via centrifugation and the non-fatty part ‘Lanolin alcohol’ is purified and stored separately.
Crude cholesterol is then extracted from Lanolin alcohol using solvent washing and chromatography.
This produces a nice, solid crystalline-like substance.
After further chemical processing, 7-Dehydrocholesterol (or Pre-Vitamin D3) is finally produced.
(7-Dehydrocholesterol is the same protein in your skin that interacts with sunlight to produce Vitamin D3).
As a final step, the 7-Dehydrocholesterol is exposed to light to produce the final stable form of Vitamin D3.
Health supplement capsules and liquids then use this stable form of Vitamin D3.”
Are Sheep Killed For Lanolin?
No, sheep are not killed for the production of Lanolin.
As Lanolin is produced from the extracted wool via a complex chemical process, it doesn’t harm the sheep directly.
Yet, when wool is extracted on a mass scale without correct training or showing empathy to the animals, it may result in cuts or clipping to their skin.
How Is Vegan Vitamin D3 Made?
OK, now you know a bit more about how they make Vitamin D from Lanolin.
The production process is well established for the mass market and sheep are not directly hurt in the process.
But of course, like all other things the world is moving towards sustainability.
According to a report published by Mintel, the demand for Vitamin D supplements has grown by 8% in 2020.
It’s also the most consumed Vitamin in the UK alongside Multivitamins.
Companies researched how to make Vitamin D from plant sources to serve the fast-growing vegan community.
The British Company ESB was among the first to develop a vegan form of Vitamin D3 (Vitashine) produced from Lichen (a type of fungi).
Is Lichen A Good Source Of Vitamin D3?
Yes, Lichen is a good source of Vitamin D3.
It’s produced from a symbiotic association between a fungus, algae, and cyanobacteria.
The Vitamin D3 produced from Lichen is like the one produced by our skin when exposed to sunlight.
Lichen is free from pesticides, toxins and doesn’t harm animals so it’s a truly sustainable source of Vitamin D3.
So, Lichen seems to be a good way to produce Vitamin D3 sustainably without using wool from sheep.
How is it actually made? Let’s take a look.
Mark Broughton from ESB Developments explains…
“Lichen is a symbiotic association between a fungus, algae, and cyanobacteria.
It means these tiny microorganisms co-exist together and provide each other with nutrients, food and support.
We find Lichen on rocks, trees, top of soils and other locations in countries like North America, Scandinavia and Asia.
It grows in huge quantities so there’s no shortage for now.
Wild lichen is collected and washed before a multistep extraction process using ethanol.
It’s then purified and added to a carrier (like MCT Oil) to make it stable.
Lastly, it’s shipped as a powder to vitamin and supplement manufacturers to produce sprays, capsules and soft gels.”
Although ESB developments are looking to improve sustainability by growing and nurturing the Lichen in house, Mark says they are not there yet.
This is truly groundbreaking work in the sustainable development of one of the world’s most used vitamins.
Which Is Better? (Skin vs Food vs Supplements)
You now have a strong understanding of how Vitamin D supplements are made, from Lanolin as well as Lichen.
Which form of Vitamin D is better for you?
The answer is all.
In our article about how is vitamin d made I talk about how Vitamin D is made by the skin and why you need to get at least 30 minutes of sunlight a day.
Preferably during mid-day to maximise Vitamin D production without risks of sunburn.
In the winter when there’s a lack of sunshine, eat Vitamin D rich foods like oily fish, eggs, mushrooms, fortified milk and cereal.
Lastly, check your Vitamin D levels and if low take a supplement to boost your levels — From Lanolin or Lichen, whatever you prefer.
There’s little variance in effectiveness and both are good forms of Vitamin D supplements. Having been around for a while now, Vitamin D3 from Lanolin is safe to consume.
I hope this article helped you understand, is Vitamin D3 from Lanolin safe and also how it’s made from Lichen.
No doubt the world is moving towards sustainability.
And if you prefer a sustainable version, it’s good to make sure you consume Vegan Vitamin D.
Get lots of sunshine, eat Vitamin D rich foods and take supplements where necessary. You’ll maintain healthy happy Vitamin D levels.
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Here you’ll connect with fellow health lovers and learn all things Vitamin D, all things natural supplements.
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