About four years ago I was researching the different sources of Vitamin D and Omegas. I wanted to get more information on the sources of their Vitamin D3 and was very curious how they process the products.
I stumbled upon this article and in an effort to make sure this process is known and does not disappear I am going to re-post the steps on how Vitamin D3 is extracted.
99 % of the Vitamin D3 on the market comes from wool from sheep. Some brands use vitamin D2 from non-animal sources and it a different form from the vitamin D humans can assimilate from sun exposure. Most all Vitamin D3 is sold from sheeps in Australia or New Zealand. If you see the word “cholecalciferol”, then you know you are consuming D3 from sheep’s wool.
What turned me off from ever buying anymore Vitamin D3 (from most all companies) was learning the extraction process and what the wool goes through to extract this “D3”. This really is a man-made Vitamin D3 after it’s been processed. I apologize in advance for the words you will be sent to look up in learning this process.
Here are eight simplified steps to make Vitamin D supplements (from Jameison Vitamins):
1. Depending on the breed, healthy sheep will produce from 2 to 30 pounds of wool each year.
2. Wool is sheared from mature, live sheep.
3. Crude lanolin is extracted from the wool using a scouring process, during which the fleece is washed in hot water with a detergent (Wiki: Lanolin is extracted by washing the wool in hot water with a special wool scouring detergent to remove dirt, wool grease (crude lanolin), suint (sweat salts), and anything else stuck to the wool).
4. Crude lanolin undergoes a saponification process; this separates the fatty component which is removed via centrifugation, from the ‘unsaponifiable’ component, known as ‘lanolin alcohols’. These undergo further steps of saponification and separation to increase purity.
5. Crude cholesterol is extracted from lanolin alcohol using solvent washes and / or column chromatography.
6. The crude cholesterol undergoes a series of further solvent extractions, washes and drying until it is extremely pure and crystalline. This purified cholesterol has been assessed as being fully compliant with the quality required for pharmaceutical manufacture.
7. Purified cholesterol is then taken through a four-step chemical process to make 7-Dehydrocholesterol, this is otherwise known as ‘pre-Vitamin D3’
8. Next, the pre-Vitamin D3 is irradiated to produce Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol); this is the same reaction that is used by human skin to manufacture the vitamin from sunlight. Finally, the pure crystals of Vitamin D3 are used to make the stabilized product forms that can be used to manufacture dietary supplements and other end use applications such as foods and beverages.
I have since called most all vitamin companies and asked them their source of D3 and all of them at the time used D3 from lanolin (cholecalciferol). The only company that has come out on top in 2016 is Garden of Life. Why, because they switched from using synthetic D3 in their new MyKind vitamins that they started producing with Alicia Silverstone. The D3 comes from a food source, lichen. Though, I am just now reading that this supplier may do the same processing technique as mentioned above. More research is needed and I have emailed the top supplier of D3 from lichen.
Other companies that do not use chemicals, heat washes, detergents, irradiation with their oils is and has naturally occurring Vitamin D3 are:
Green Pastures Fermented Cod Liver oil – my family has been using for four years with great results. If you have any questions on their products, the owner himself is happy to answer.
Rosita/Corganic Extra Virgin CLO – my only complaint with these guys is that they will not disclose their source of Vitamin E that they add to their oil. Why do they have to add? I do not know. They are also very spendy and the fish comes from the same waters as other top fish oil companies who do extensive processing to their cod liver oil due to “contaminants” in the fish. So jury is still out on them.
Garden of Life Raw D3 – its vegetarian and vegan friendly. Raw Vitamin D3. But jury is also still out on whether the extraction process is also horrible to get D3 from lichen.
If you have synthetic D3 in your cabinets, I recommend using it up and not buying in the future or if you are totally grossed out you can throw it away. I hope this helps another in their search for healthier supplements.
Hey Brittany 🙂 so are you using Garden of life now for D3 supplementation ?
Rosie, no I am using Green Pastures. Green Pastures, while the levels vary per batch has naturally occurring Vitamin D levels that are only found in cod livers. I have noticed no issues with Vitamin D levels this way. I hope that helps.