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Sourcing the Right Type of Vitamin D3 Matters

Sourcing the Right Type of Vitamin D3 Matters

Sourcing the Right Type of Vitamin D3 Matters

You might have heard vitamin D referred to as the sunshine vitamin, and this is because the sun is one of the best sources of vitamin D. UV rays produce vitamin D “endogenously” when the rays interact with our skin.

Also known as calciferol, vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is found in some foods. However, most people in the U.S. don’t get enough vitamin D in their diets, which is why vitamin D supplements are essential.

Because not all supplements are the same, here we explain why sourcing the right type of Vitamin D3 matters. (1,2,3)

Two Types Of Vitamin D Supplements

First, there are two types of vitamin D supplements: (1)

  1. D2 (ergocalciferol), derived from plants (4)
  2. D3 (cholecalciferol), derived from fatty fish or sheep lanolin (4)

The body absorbs both through the small intestine. However, it is believed vitamin D3 is more effective at improving the amount of vitamin D in the body. This is because it is metabolized differently in the liver. Once metabolized, vitamin D becomes calcifediol. While both forms of vitamin D produce calcifediol, D2 has less. So, when choosing your vitamin D supplements, always start by looking for D3 products. (1,5)

Why Sun And Vitamin D3 Produce The Most Potent Vitamin D3

As mentioned, your skin uses the sun to produce vitamin D3. Therefore, it makes sense to look for a vitamin D3 supplement that produces vitamin D3 in the same manner to improve its potency. D2 supplements produce vitamin D using plant sources like mushrooms exposed to a lamp. However, D3 supplements derived from sheep lanolin simulate a process similar to the one created when our skin is exposed to the sun. (1,5,6)

The Most Potent Vitamin D3 Produced From Lanolin

Vitamin D3 produced from sheep’s wool uses the lanolin in the wool to produce vitamin D in the same way our bodies synthesize the vitamin when our skin is exposed to UV rays. It is a humane process as the wool is taken from live sheep, causing no harm during the process. It is no different than the shearing used to produce wool for other products. 

The lanolin is extracted from the wool and then put through a “saponification process” to separate the fatty parts of the lanolin from the ‘unsaponifiable’ component, lanolin alcohols. Once separated, purity is increased, and crude cholesterol is the final product at the end of the extraction process. (6)

The Most Potent Vitamin D3 Produced From Purified Cholesterol

The European Directorate approves the purified crude cholesterol for Quality of Medicines. Once it is in its purest form, it goes through yet another process to produce “pre-Vitamin D3,” which is ready to be irradiated to create the same reaction our human skin has to UV rays. The crystals produced during this process can then be used for vitamin D3 supplements. (6)

Most Potent Vitamin D3 Health Benefits

Vitamin D helps regulate the absorption of calcium and phosphorus while supporting healthy immune system function. There are many potential health benefits to taking a good quality vitamin D3 supplement, including: (1)

  • Reducing the risk of multiple sclerosis (7)
  • Decreasing the chance of heart diseases such as hypertension, heart failure, and stroke (8)
  • Reducing the likelihood of severe illness related to flu and COVID-19 (9,10)
  • Supporting immune health (11)
  • Mood regulation and reducing the risk of depression (12)
  • Supporting weight loss (13)

However, it is important to ensure you are not taking too much vitamin D as this can lead to health issues. (14)

Possible Effects Of Too Much Vitamin D

Taking higher doses vitamin D supplements can increase your blood calcium levels leading to vitamin D toxicity. Issues from vitamin D toxicity can include: (14)

  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Apathy and/or confusion
  • Stomach pain
  • Dehydration
  • Increased thirst

Sticking to the following Recommended Daily Doses (RDD) will help avoid possible health issues: (1)

  • Infants (0–12 months): 10 mcg (400 IU)
  • Children and teens: 15 mcg (600 IU)
  • Adults aged 18–70: 15 mcg (600 IU)
  • Adults over age 70: 20 mcg (800 IU)
  • Pregnant or breastfeeding women: 15 mcg (600 IU)

Most Potent Vitamin D3 and Purity

One last consideration. When choosing soft gel products, it is crucial to consider potency and purity. Sometimes, vitamin D can be as low as 9% and as high as 146% of the usual dose. Soft gels also use carriers for the active ingredients, which can be impure, such as soybean or corn oil containing GMOs. Therefore, you want to read the label, confirm that it is a USP-verified supplement and avoid products that don’t specifically tell you they are GMO-free. Other considerations include the presence of gluten and unnecessary chemical preservatives. (15)

Vitamin D Deficiency

Signs you might have vitamin D deficiency include fatigue, aches, pains, especially in the bones, muscle weakness, and stress fractures. The best way to avoid vitamin D deficiency is to spend time outdoors to get some sun, eating a healthy diet rich in vitamin D such as oily fish, dairy and eggs, and taking a high-quality vitamin D3 supplement derived from lanolin. (1,5,6)

For more information on lanolin derived, pure Vitamin D3 supplements click here.