Vegan D3: Apparently So

As promised in my post of July 29, Update: Vegan D3, I corresponded with Stephen Walsh, PhD of the UK Vegan Society about giving their seal of approval to the company Vitashine for vitamin D3.

Dr. Walsh said that they met with the company and that they were satisfied that the D3 in their product is vegan. Vitashine claims to get the D3 from lichen.

I then found a study that confirmed that at least some species of lichen grown in some locations contain vitamin D3:

Wang T, Bengtsson G, Kärnefelt I, Björn LO. Provitamins and vitamins D2 and D3 in Cladina spp. over a latitudinal gradient: possible correlation with UV levels. J Photochem Photobiol B. 2001 Sep 1;62(1-2):118-22. Abstract | PDF

The next logical question is whether vegans should go to the trouble of getting vitamin D3 instead of using vitamin D2. I would suggest that unless you are having problems raising your levels of vitamin D using D2, it is unnecessary.

One bit of advice I have is to take vitamin D with some fat to help increase absorption. I base this only on the fact that vitamin D is fat soluble – I do not know of any trials studying this.

78 Responses to “Vegan D3: Apparently So”

  1. Chris Says:

    Dear Jack,

    We are currently finalising things ready to launch the product in a matter of weeks. Thank you for taking the time to clarify things with the Vegan Society. We are very excited about Vitashine…… almost ready to go!


  2. Name (required) Says:

    I wonder why you seem to be so interested in a vegan vitamin D3 source. Couldn’t vegans who, for whatever reason, want to take D3 instead of D2 simply use an animal-derived supplement? After all, Vegan Outreach states how practiced veganism should not be a quest for some arbitrary purity, and animal-derived D3 is just an insignificant byproduct of the animal products industry.

  3. Vegan Vitamin D3 Brought to Market Says:

    […] we’ll soon see a vegan D3 on the market priced to undercut D2. Link. Spread the […]

  4. Barbara Says:

    Hi Jack,
    You are a wonderful resource for Vegans. Thank you for all that you do! Much appreciated!!

  5. Jack Norris RD Says:

    Thanks, Barbara!

  6. R. Says:

    I also want to echo the question posed by the anonymous commenter above. Do minute vitamins and minerals have to examined so carefully? It seems to cause unnecessary stress when that energy could go towards more productive causes.

  7. Christopher Hayes Says:

    No, they do not have to be scrutinized as such, but some people choose to do so. I see no harm in it. The Vegan Society, Vegan Outreach, and whatever other groups are organized under similar missions should not be considered the final word on veganism, or even anyone’s word other than that of the organization. Additionally, I think it is a worthwhile pursuit to push for the availability of all vitamins in a vegan form whenever feasible.

  8. Jack Norris RD Says:

    Oops. I see that I responded to the question as to why I’m bothering with vegan vitamin D3 on the other thread rather than this one. To repeat my poorly worded response:

    In this case, it is more of an issue, in my opinion, because if there were no industry producing animal byproducts (as many of us vegans hope for in the eventual future), it’s nice to know there would still be a potential vegan source of vitamin D3. And, many vegans do not want to take non-vegan vitamins, and I’m also sympathetic to that desire as well.

  9. Elaine Says:

    For the record, the explanation that US manufacturers of infant formula give for using D3 in soy infant formula is that they say there isn’t enough evidence that D2 is absorbed as well and thus they can’t rely on it for infant formula. (I contacted all the formula makers in my area and the ones that bothered to reply told me that.) This new lichen-based vitamin D now provides infant formula makers with no excuse not to make a vegan formula. They can and should offer a truly 100% vegan infant formula; I’m certain there would be a market for it.

  10. Tonttu Says:

    I am a vegetarian, but I have to get me some lichen D3 just to freak people out with it! Makes a great conversation piece, for sure. When doubting voices are raised, BAM, whip out the article in Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology.

    Thanks for the reporting and investigation, Jack.

  11. Chris Says:

    Hi Elaine – after launching the nutritional supplement later this month, we want to talk to vegan food manufacturers, but need to master our scale-up first to be able to make and supply enough D3 to them.

    We totally support the healthy debate of D2 vs D3, and having reviewed a great deal of research data we share the view of the manufacturers you spoke to that D3 absorption is proven across the board whereas D2 isn’t. On our website (coming soon) we will have links to papers supporting both arguments.


  12. Ava Odoemena Says:

    The personal purity thing sounds to me as a means to discredit decisive vegans as ridiculous and hysterical. However Vitamin D3 (the nonvegan type), is derived mainly from butchers wool, hence lanolin coming straight from the sheep-butchery.

    The reason why vegans prefer to seek alternatives for non-vegan products, is because …uh, the product is non-vegan and in case of Vitamin D3 easily avoided.

    I must say at first I was excited when I heard about the news that there is now a vegan D3, BTW Golden Oat and Solanum Glaucophyllum are also sources of plant-based Vitamin D3, in the case of Golden Oat even in it’s activated (hormone) form.

    Then I read a now locked PR-text from Vitashine in the cache file of a WordPress-blog.

    I was particularly disturbed by following sentence:

    “There is some evidence to suggest Vitamin D2 is also effective, but we have also seen credible evidence to indicate that Vitamin D2 is of no use to the body.”

    Excuse me? Why spoil a perfectly legitimate product with such discrediting FUD-PR? Studies that show the validity of D2 aside, as someone who personally achieved a very good 25(OH)D result with D2, I think it’s silly to scare-monger potential customers – who would buy vegan D3 without any further stress added.

    The likes of Dr. Cannel have done enough to peddle the fantasy that D2 is not as valid or powerful as D3, many vegans already believe that anyway.

    By discrediting D2 vegans are robbed of a valid choice. And that just upsets me.

  13. Edanator Says:

    Now that we believe the vegan D3 is indeed vegan, the big question isn’t whether the price of vegan D3 will be lower than D2, but rather whether vegan D3 will be cheaper than non-vegan D3?

  14. Chris Says:

    Dear All,

    The Vitashine website is now live: Product is being manufactured this week and the online purchase facility will be launched very soon.

    We’re very proud that Vitashine is registered with the Vegan Society.

    Ava – sorry for any misunderstanding. That was just a draft/test blog entry by one of our junior web guys. It wasn’t checked and shouldn’t have been live. We’re only marketing with completely openness, as you will see on our website :-)


    (sorry Jack – I’m not trying to take over your message board!)

  15. Ava Odoemena Says:

    Hello Chris,

    Congrats on the website-launch, looking good so far:-) I understand the marketing-prerogative to support D3, obviously if you’re selling D3 you want to support it. However I see a continuation on the website -although in milder form- that your main support bases on the devaluation of D2. BTW, that “Vitamin D2 (Ergocalciferol), […] is a derivative of ergosterol and is not produced by land plants of vertebrates.” (sic)

    This suggest, that Vitamin D2 is somewhat unnatural.

    However, many Foods are Vitamin-D2-active upon UV-exposure, not only mushrooms which generate a considerable amount of Vitamin D2 when dried in the sun, but also unsuspecting substances like Olive-Oil and Cassava. Since Cassava contains a production when the seeds are dried in the sun, they can contain even excessive amounts of Vitamin D2 to the point of Vitamin-D-intoxication. (I’ll look for the source if you want me to.) Humans have been drying foods for a very long time, longer than any modern food-preservation has been around, so it’s not feasible to assume or suggest that Vitamin D2 is an alien substance to human body.

    Don’t get me wrong, I think vegan D3 is a great win for us, even if mainly rhetorically but these are points where I have to be anal.

    An example for marketing which doesn’t seek to suppress a “competing product” where there really should not be any competition, is marketing geared at non-Vegans. I’m very sure Non-Vegans would prefer a cleaner Version of D3, why don’t you mention that on the page? Regular D3 is a byproduct of the slaughterhouse, Produced from what is essentially butchers waste. You certainly got a product in store which is much cleaner, both directly and figuratively. I’m sure non-vegans are also interested in the clean choice.

    BTW, are you legally required to keep dosage so low? For me to arrive at a relevant 25(OH)D-level of at least 75nmol/L, I have to consume on average about 15,000 (yes thousand) IUs a day. 400,000 IU of Sterogyl costs me about €2,50

  16. Ava Odoemena Says:

    BTW My new bloodwork-results came in the mail today, my 25(OH)D is 123 nmol/L (49,2 ng/ml), achieved by ergocalciferol/D2. I feel like writing the result on my butt with lipstick and sending a snapshot of both to Dr. Cannell. Since he’s a psychiatrist by first training, I’m certain he’ll understand my desire to be provocative with this issue.

  17. Chris Says:

    Hi Ava,

    You’re absolutely right about the wider value of non-sheep and non-fish D3 from an ethical perspective, and that’s our key message to retailers. Thanks for the input website-wise (and the typo spot – we’ll fix this :-) ).

    Best wishes

  18. isis Says:

    I like the idea of a sprayable liquid form of Vitamin D, but I share Ava’s concern about the low dose. 1,000 IU is really very low! Trying to get a proper dose with this makes this a very, very expensive product, even at 2,000 IU which is the minimum most people I’ve talked with have been advised to take daily (I’ve personally been advised to take 4,0000 IU). This is very much out of reach financially for a lot of working class and disabled people who survive on a limited income.

    I’m also concerned that this product is not labeled organic, especially since the Vitamin E in it is from soy, which even when grown organically can no longer be guaranteed to actually BE organic, because of genetic drift from the vast acreage of genetically modified soy being grown in this country. As I said in another comment section about this product, not organic, and likely genetically modified, is a deal breaker for me.

    Chris, if you’re still hanging out here, I’m excited to see that you’ve come up with an option for D3 from a plant source, but unfortunately this is not an option for anyone whose economic resources are limited, who avoids soy, and is committed to eating organic. I hope you will eventually offer a product that is accessible to more of us.

  19. Jack Norris RD Says:


    > I’ve personally been advised to take 4,0000 IU

    Is that because you had your vitamin D levels tested and they were low?

  20. Chris Says:

    Hi Isis,

    Thanks for the comments. Hopefully the below answers your questions:

    1) Dose: current product
    With the spray we’ve gone for a Universally-suitable product. As the RDA in Europe is only 200IU per day (really low I know!), we figured a spray gave flexibility on dose in a global-suitable product. Feedback suggested 1000IU per day tended to be the average recommendation, so we set the daily dose to 5 sprays (giving 1000IU).

    2) New product
    I’m delighted to reveal we will shortly be launching a 5000IU capsule (vegan) to go alongside the spray. We’re hoping this will satisfy those seeking a higher dose. Price-wise, I think you will be pleased. All being well we’ll have stock before Christmas. We could potentially offer a higher dose spray as well in the future.

    3) Organic
    All of the components in Vitashine are of organic origin. Whilst the Vitamin E is of soy origin, the source we use has non-GMO certification, and is from isolated crop to remain organic and ensure no cross-contamination. I can assure you we would not use any component that has any potential of being GMO. We don’t really talk about the organic aspect, but as you have brought it up we will amend the website to give the necessary details.

    I hope this helps but please don’t hesitate to drop me a line with anything else.

    Best wishes


  21. isis Says:

    Hi Jack.

    Yes, I got my levels tested, and they were low, even though I’ve been taking 2,000IU daily for many months now, always with oil. The 4,000IU is a recommendation from my doctor, but whether that will be enough remains to be seen in a few months, when we test my levels again.

    And Hi Chris.

    Thanx so much for the clarification about the Vitamin E soy source especially. I’m looking forward to checking out your new product soon. Particularly since I’ve been using the Garden of Life D3, and I’m offended that they call their product ‘vegan friendly’ while using lanolin in their manufacturing process. I really want an ethical alternative that is safe, effective, and affordable for me.

    Hey Ava.

    If you’re still here too, I’m also curious about the D2 drops you’re taking. Got a link to check them out?

    Thanx, everyone, and especially Jack, for making this forum available. I appreciate this discussion immensely. Very helpful in making informed choices.


  22. Jack Norris RD Says:


    I’d be interested to know what your levels were (with the units included) if you feel like sharing.

  23. isis Says:

    I don’t really know what the numbers of my blood test represent, but maybe you know what they refer to: My level was at 26, and I was told that it should be between 32 and 100.

    I should also say that I rarely see any sunlight, because I’m mostly housebound due to pesticide poisoning, which has severely sensitized me to other chemical products being used by most people every day, particularly fragrances. If I spend much time out, I get sick for days, weeks, sometimes even months. That may also explain my greater need for vitamin D.

  24. Jack Norris RD Says:


    For what it’s worth: Your levels are being measured in nmol/l. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommends levels between 40 and 50 nmol/l. From about 2005 to 2010, there was a lot of speculation that vitamin D levels should be higher than 50 nmol/l, but the IOM reviewed all the scientific literature and concluded there was not sufficient evidence for higher level and there may be some harm from them. I’d probably err on the side of getting them to 50.

  25. isis Says:

    Thanx, Jack. Much appreciate the recommendation.

  26. Luna Says:

    After doing much exhausting research on vitamin D, and concluding that my partner and I need to be supplementing, I am more than thrilled to have found a VEGAN source of D3!!!!!!!!!!! And will definitely support your product now that you have verified that the soy in it is GMO free! However, I think i will be waiting until the supposed 5000IU capsule comes out, I will decide after getting my level tested. I hope that the ingredients in the capsule will also be very pure. Thank you for caring enough to make such a product :)

  27. Luna Says:

    Oops, new to posting… the previous comment was directed towards Chris of VITASHINE!

  28. friendlytoanimals Says:

    hey there,
    I just wanted to give huge thanks to all the research that went on in regards to the D3 questions. I just spent the evening reading over a couple of threads here and am much impressed.

    To CHRIS – keep the low dose too!!!! I know all the focus here is on getting enough D, but 1) I plan to give it to a child too and 2) I worry about hypercalcemia with people overdosing on D vitamins – so it’s nice to have a low dose option out there that gives us good control over our intake.
    thanks again all

  29. Chris Says:

    Hi everyone,

    I’m delighted to announce Vitashine D3 5000iu capsules are now finally available! We’re selling bottles of 60 capsules, 1 per day.

    Don’t worry – we’re keeping the spray product as it’s ideal for kids and those wanting a lower D3 dose.

    Thanks everyone for your support and this great discussion thread.


  30. Isis Says:

    Hi Chris.

    Wonderful news about the higher dose capsules. I noticed that on the website it still doesn’t specify that the ingredients are organic and GMO-free, though. In the list of ingredients for the capsules, it refers to the Vitamin E as ‘Natural Antioxidant’, and doesn’t even mention that it’s derived from soy. Would really appreciate having that spelled out, so it’s really clear what I’m buying. Thanx.

  31. Chris Says:

    Hi Isis,

    The first box on the home page (product details) stated organic, but we’ve now expanded to include ‘non-GMO’ as well to avoid any doubt. The same for Vitamin E in the ingredient list.

    Best wishes

  32. Europe Says:

    The RDA for Vitamin D in Germany has now been raised from 5 µg (200 IU) to 20 µg (800 IU) per day for adults.
    Maybe the dosage of Vitashine should be adapted to make more sense.

  33. Isis Says:

    Unfortunately I can’t use the Vitashine product, because of the soy. I’m really bummed about that. But it looks like there’s a similar product that doesn’t contain soy, that I may try. Has anyone had any experiences with this one?

  34. Jack Norris RD Says:


    The lab that tested Source of Life’s vitamin D never got back to me (after emailing them and sending them snail mail) about whether their lab test could differentiate between vitamin D2 and D3. At this time, I’m not convinced that it’s D3. You can see a long discussion about it here:

    Are you sure you need D3? D2 should work for most people.

  35. Chris Says:

    Hi Everyone

    The natural Vitamin E in Vitashine is isolated from certified non-GMO soy. It is literally Vitamin E itself and no other fractions of soy. We use Vitamin E at a very low level, as it is a very good antioxidant to protect our oil, and we prefer a natural source.

    After consulting a lot of safety advisors during development of Vitashine, we are absolutely satisfied it is the right choice of antioxidant and source.

    Best wishes


  36. Isis Says:

    Oh, that’s right. I do remember that post of yours, Jack. I may try it and see what my next test numbers say after I’ve used it for a while. That should clarify whether it works for me, though not whether it’s D2 or D3, or course. The reason I’ve not tried D2 is that I’m unwilling to use synthetics.

    Chris and I had a lot of back and forth about the ingredients of Vitashine. I really appreciated all the information you shared with me, Chris, and greatly respect your openness. In the end analysis for me however, the soy remains an issue. As it is, I avoid soy regardless of its source, and many people I know do so, because of thyroid issues, as well as allergies. The reason I decided against using this product specifically is because your lab guy said that one of the sources of your soy is Asia. While that’s a very large continent, considering all the industrial pollution in China, and now the ongoing radiation emissions in Japan, both of which are drifting across the globe and impacting us all to varying degrees, for me that is too close for comfort. I also still remember getting sick from the certified organic ginger from China that was contaminated with pesticides not so long ago.

    I feel that adding Vitamin E to the product just complicates matters. It’s a controversy all its own. What I really want is simply Vitamin D3, in an organic form. I wish that Vitashine would add the lichen extract to a composition more like the Source of Life and Garden of Life products (the latter is NOT vegan!), and I would immediately use it, and never look back. Please add it to the wish list, Chris, in case you ever reformulate the product.

  37. Jack Norris RD Says:


    > The reason I’ve not tried D2 is that I’m unwilling to use synthetics.

    Why would you consider D2 synthetic? It’s just made from yeast exposed to UV light.

  38. Brian P Says:

    @ Isis, whoa please never generalise Asia as being China or contaminated areas of Japan! Often it is hard for people to appreciate we are a continent producing quality products. We get a bad press just because of China which is unfair.

    As for Vitashine, I had the pleasure of meeting Mark from the company and they are simply fantastic. Great work and please no one be concerned about comments re Vit E. it is the best antioxidant nature has produced!


  39. Isis Says:

    I didn’t know that’s how D2 is produced, Jack. Can you point me to a link with more information about that process? Problem is that I’ve never found a D2 product that is not made with all sorts of other synthetic ingredients. I’ve only looked in my price range, so perhaps there is one that’s organic somewhere, but I’m limited to what I can afford.

    Brian, I never generalized Asia as ‘being’ China or ‘contaminated areas’ of Japan. I said very clearly that the drift from those places is impacting the entire globe.

    I live on the West Coast of the U.S. and radiation from Fukushima is being found right here. Nuclear disasters are a global issue. There are still mushrooms in Germany that are contaminated from Chernobyl a quarter of a century later, and that crisis was nowhere near as bad as what’s happening at Fukushima now.

    I don’t doubt that some of you produce wonderful, nontoxic products, but the fact is that regulation of toxic industries in China is even worse than it is in the U.S. Again, drift happens, and it’s a global issue. The DDT found in antarctic penguins can’t be blamed on local agriculture. It drifted there from elsewhere. I’m not in a position to judge whether the soy in this product was grown in an area that I would feel comfortable buying from, so I don’t.

    If Chris had told me that the soy is from the U.S. I would refuse to buy it as well, because there is no guarantee anymore that any soy is organic here, because the majority of all soy grown in this country is genetically modified and just about all other soy is subject to genetic drift from the GMO fields.

    I’m very ill from chemical injuries, and I do my best to avoid consuming foods made with synthetic or potentially contaminated ingredients, because it simply is not an acceptable risk to my health.

  40. M C Says:

    Although the phrase “Organic, non-GMO plant source” appears on the Details tab on the home page of the Vitashine website, it’s not clear whether this refers to the entire product or to the vitamin D3 only.

    On the Ingredients tab, there is no indication that any or all of the ingredients are organic or non-GMO.

  41. Jack Norris RD Says:

    M C,

    Chris says above that all the ingredients are organic and non-GMO, at least for the original product.

    We are certainly putting Vitashine through the ringer!

    I am interested to know if the people posting here, who are concerned about what would amount to a trace amount of non-organic or GMO substance in a vitamin D3 supplement, are this diligent about everything you ingest?

  42. friendlytoanimals Says:

    wow everyone, I’m astounded at how this product is being picked apart! I’m just really glad that there is an alternative to D2 now*, and like Jack said, we are talking about trace amounts of ingredients -if there was inorganic or gmo ingredients it would be nothing compared to one meal in a restaurant. This company has been so responsive, open and kind – can we let them alone yet? I bought their product and have been using it on myself and my kid – all is well. I found it was cheaper to buy straight from the company than to get it from domestic suppliers here in the states.

    * and yes, I believe that D2 is possibly inferior. It may supply the D2 you need, but I heard that it can cause calcification of the soft tissue in your body. I was skeptical until my then 7 year old developed this weird calcium lump under his tongue that had to be cut out. It can happen to saliva gland areas, but the dental oral surgeon said he had never seen it in a child before. Maybe it’s not connected, but it was enough for me to be done with D2 just in case. After all, my kid had been ingesting D2 his whole young developing life and I have no other suspected causes.

  43. Chris Says:

    Hi Everyone,

    Just to help confirm – the Vitashine products are absolutely 100% free from GMO components. The plant source for our Vitamin D3 is organic, and the original product contains all organic components. The follow-up capsule product format does contain components (Glycerin, potato starch) that whilst being 100% vegan/vegetarian/plant-source, are processed during their respective manufacture so not classed as wholly organic (in the eyes of some certifiers).

    I hope that helps.

    (and “friendlytoanimals” thank you so much for the kind words. The positive feedback makes all the hard work worthwhile!).

    Best wishes


  44. Chris Says:

    By the way I did mean to add…. always feel free to throw these kinds of questions at us. We really appreciate how passionate everyone is about ensuring products are of the highest purity and quality, and that they meet vital ethical requirements. We are exactly the same and it is the reason we research and develop the products we do.

    We will always try to respond (reasonably!) quickly. Thanks again Jack for a great website and keeping this thread going.

    Best wishes


  45. Isis Says:

    Yes, I for one am very diligent about what I ingest. Isn’t diligence about what we consume the whole point of asking whether these products are vegan and D3? Some of us add the question whether they’re also organic.

    The argument that there is just a ‘trace amount’ of something in a product is the same argument the chemical industry uses to convince people that pesticides used on food are nothing to worry about. But people who have been injured and sensitized by these pesticides, who are really canaries in the coalmine, have a different experience. I know people who can smell those ‘traces’ of pesticides in the produce aisle, and that exposure alone makes them ill. Switching from so-called ‘conventional’ foods to organic made a noticeable difference in my own fragile health.

    When we’re talking about trace amounts of chemicals, we’re not just talking about one product with trace amounts of one chemical. We’re talking about that trace amount, on top of all the other trace amounts in other products, on top of all the other toxic products we’re exposed to constantly. And vitamin supplements are something we ingest daily. We’re talking about trace amounts of chemicals that can accumulate in the bodies of people whose ability to detox is challenged by toxic injuries. It may be just a drop, but even a drop can make a full barrel overflow. Even a drop can make some of us very ill.

    Maybe for many who read this discussion this is going to be the perfect product that works well for them. I think that’s great. But for some of us it’s not a good option. I know soy is a staple for many vegans, but it’s not for people who avoid it because of thyroid issues, or stay away from GMOs, or especially those who are allergic to soy.

    I’m not trying to put Chris and Vitashine on the defensive, but neither should I have to defend my concerns about whether this product is right for everyone. It’s no less valid to question where vegan ingredients come from, than whether something is in fact vegan, or D3 as opposed to D2.

  46. Jack Norris RD Says:


    I totally understand if you have chemical sensitivities and think you could be harmed by the product. But my impression is that many people hold vegan manufacturers to a much higher standard than they hold themselves, although I’m not sure about that so I was asking.

  47. Isis Says:

    Thanx, Jack. I think it’s a fair question. I’m not a fan of hypocrisy either. I think for the most part we all draw the line in different places based on our own individual priorities.

    I also want to reiterate that I appreciate that Chris is here discussing the product in detail. Not a lot of manufacturers are willing to engage with questions and concerns. I find it admirable that you do.

  48. Jack Norris RD Says:

    I just don’t like to see unnecessary pressure put on vegan manufacturers by people who are not willing to buy a vegan vitamin that is not GMO-free, but then willing to eat at a restaurant that serves non-GMO food. This can be a problem for vegan manufacturers, because the more pure a product gets, the more expensive it gets. Then if people aren’t willing to pay the higher prices, they go out of business.

  49. Pamela Says:

    Am heartened to see so many of my concerns reflected in this forum–amazing!

    I received meticulous responses from Chris (Vitashine)–who I see has generously participated in this forum–just this last wknd, before I discovered this wonderful forum but, alas, the company Vitashine has partnered with in the US does not offer a high enough dose in spray form which is the form I have heard is most absorption-likely and it would cost a fortune to get Vitashine distributor’s rendition of the spray which is also flavored! (sigh) I was so impressed and excited to find the spray, unflavored, somewhat high dose through Vitashine but now I’m back into the laborious search for something else.

    My D levels went from zero registration in my blood to 30 and now it’s dipped down to 8! I was having D custom made by a local pharmacy with organic olive oil but when I learned that I need to be cautious about GMO tainting in D, I asked the pharmacy to assure me and they did not. They produced some chemical analysis sheet which addressed none of my concerns and was pretty much in a very technical language. When I pressed the matter for more intelligible info about their sources, they disappeared, haven’t heard from them since.

    I am deeply concerned about leaving this D deficiency unattended for too much longer but cannot bear the thought of ingesting GMOs and other poisons. Lichen seems brilliant as a source. I have always been very upset knowing that what the pharmacy sold me had some aspect of lanolin but my naturopath had told me to lose the D2, that it was ineffectual. So I felt stuck with the lanolin. I have also not seen any D2 out there that didn’t have some suspicion of synthetic and GMO!

    My naturopath has prescribed 8,000 IUs but I will go without until I find something I can trust that also has some hope of reliability and affordability!

    Any new info from anyone? I’d be grateful to hear some encouraging news!

  50. Isis Says:

    I hesitate to bring up another Vitamin D related issue, but haven’t found anything about this on your site yet, Jack.

    I was alerted by a friend that Vitamin D should always be taken with Vitamin K2, because without it the D leaches calcium from the bones.

    Mercola wrote about this issue here:

    Since most of us are not getting enough magnesium with our calcium, I’m concerned about interfering with my calcium absorption in any additional ways, so have been looking for K2 to take with D, but it looks like it’s also difficult to find in a natural vegan form. The only vegan K2 I’ve been able to find is from natto, which once again is soy, which many people are allergic to, and which is difficult to guarantee to be free of GMO. I found some mention that some fermented foods have K2, but they always settle back on natto, without any analysis of other fermented options.

    Have you looked into the K2 connection at all, Jack? Would love to hear your insight into this. Thanx.

  51. Jack Norris RD Says:


    I put your comment through, but it will probably be awhile before I have a chance to respond to it in any thorough way.

  52. Vicky Says:

    For most people allergic/intolerant to soya, sprouted soya beans are edible. So you could try buying and sprouting your own soya beans, and buy natto spores/bacteria and ferment them yourself. Commercially produced natto is made in a sterile environment, but vitamin b12 grows on home-made natto, which is an extra bonus.

    Alternatively, eat sauerkraut (German fermented cabbage) as this contains K2. From the manufacturing methods, I would guess that traditionally made sauerkraut is a better source of K2 than commercially produced. K2 is made in the gut from E.Coli bacteria, so perhaps you could take an E.Coli supplement to re-colonise your gut?

    By the way, vegans have been found to have higher levels of magnesium than necrotarians. It’s an easy nutrient to obtain.

    I also don’t understand why most of you can’t just get some sunlight? It’s the most natural way to get your vitamin D.

    Plus I 100% agree with Ava Odoemena. Veganism is NOT a diet, it’s an identity. If you’re deliberately, lazily consuming animal produce then you are simply NOT a vegan, you’re eating a plant-based diet, and have no right to call yourself a vegan, and even less right to criticize and belittle *actual* vegans by implying that we are obsessive and puritanical. I repeat, veganism is NOT a diet.

    Chris – it’s a shame you’re getting such a grilling, I’m happy there’s a cruelty-free, eco-friendly D3 supplement available. You seem to have made it as suitable for everyone as possible. Me and my brother took it in the winter and when we’re stuck indoors and we’re happy with it. I have to very strongly disagree with you about “the final word on veganism”. The founder of the Vegan Society INVENTED the word, so actually yes they are THE authority, (although the organisation has gone downhill in the past couple of years to the point we’re some are speculating that they’ve been infiltrated! Donald Watson would be turning in his grave)

  53. Chris Says:

    Hi Vicky,

    Thank you for the kind feedback about Vitashine. We’re considering launching a chewable tablet containing Calcium and Vitamin K2 along with our Vitamin D3. I would appreciate any comments about whether you (and anyone reading this) think this is a good addition? Our aim really is to offer a more rounded single product, and a chewable tablet makes it ok for kids as well. Feedback welcomed.

    I love this forum, and I’m more than happy with a ‘grilling’ from time to time :-). It is great to contribute to a forum of people with so much knowledge and passion. Our aim is exactly as you put it, to offer the best and most eco-friendly / sustainable products we can. I remain here to answer questions as best I can.

    Best wishes


    p.s. – the comment you cited about “the final word on veganism” did not come from me. That was from another ‘Christopher’ quite a way above in this discussion thread.

    p.p.s – you’re right that getting Vitamin D from the sun is ideal, but if like me you live in UK, you too will have forgotten what that big yellow thing in the sky looks like!!

    Thanks Jack as always for keeping this discussion open.

  54. Julie Says:


    Can you tell me exactly how much vitamin E is each spray? I just purchased two bottles of the spray and of course, the next day, read a report of how unsafe vitamin E is to take. ugh!


    What are your feelings on vitamin E controversy?

    Thanks so much in advance. This is a great site and thanks to vitashine for producing a vegan d3!

    Best Regards.

  55. Jack Norris RD Says:


    > What are your feelings on vitamin E controversy?

    Unless there is some medical condition that requires it, I would not recommend large amounts of vitamin E supplements, though small amounts shouldn’t be harmful.

  56. Julie Says:

    Thnx for your prompt answer…yes, that’s the idea I was getting….which is why i asked Chris how much vitamin e is in each spray of the vit d. do you happen to know if it’s a safe amount?

    Thnx again :)

  57. Jack Norris RD Says:


    I don’t know how much is in it.

  58. Isis Says:


    I would be interested in a combination D3, K2, and Calcium, if Magnesium was included at a minimum rate of 2-1 parts Calcium-Magnesium, preferably closer to equal parts.

    Of course, as you know I’m concerned about the soy-based Vitamin E, so I’d personally only be interested without that.

    If it’s chewable, there’s the question how you’ll make it taste okay, so that would be another concern I have.


  59. Chris Says:

    Hi Julie,

    Our spray contains <0.1% Vitamin E, and it is purely there are a highly effective antioxidant to protect the oil. Over the years I've worked with many different natural antioxidants and Vit E is in my opinion by far the most reliable. It is certified non-GMO.

    Best wishes


  60. Dima Says:

    The US companies that sell Vitashine D3:

    * Garden of Life
    * The Food Movement
    * Vibrant Nutraceuticals

    Nordic Naturals also claim to make their D3 of lichen too, however they do not mention Vitashine, like the above-listed companies do, making me believe they use their own technology, which is not approved by Vegan Society.

    Source of Life Garden also sell vegan D3 made of mushrooms, it is known since 1997 that mushrooms also produce the vitamin ( along with D2.

    Since the raising amount of studies show that D2 is not as effective as D3 and even can be harmful (, it is good that plant-derived D3 is available, yet very expensive in relation to the animal origin D3, though.

  61. Jack Norris RD Says:


    > Since the raising amount of studies show that D2 is not as effective as D3 and even can be harmful (,

    I don’t think those studies show vitamin D2 to be harmful. It is true that in weekly large doses of about 50,000 IU, D3 sustains levels better than D2. But D2 is effective when taken in consistent amounts on a daily basis. I have worked with a number of vegans with severe vitamin D deficiency whose symptoms cleared up upon taking D2. Unless someone has a stubborn case of vitamin D deficiency, D2 should work.

  62. RChrist Says:

    If you are Vegetarian/Vegan or not, D3 is best. In my opinion a superior D3 product would be from Lichen or a “safe vegetation source” not soy. It will have a vegetarian capsule with no fillers. It will not be GMO. It will be suspended in a superior w-Omega3 complex from Micro-Algea with no w-6’s or w-9’s only ALA, DHA and EPA polyunsaturated EFA’s. It should have alpha, beta, gamma, delta tocopherols of “superior safe vegetational sources” not soy. It should be available in 5000 IU’s and 10000 IU’s. Halibut liver oil is a good safe source for Vitamin A and alternate extra for DHA and EPA. Slaughtered or not Sheeps wool GMO Lanolin oil in my opinion is definately not good and I can’t see it on my plate no thanks and no way. Hope this helps a little. So who ever is making the D3 can you make it the way I said in the beginning? Please___________?

  63. Richard Says:

    There is a product though that is colloidal iodine and it is roasted sea sponge and it is made into an extract that you use in drops to add to your meals. Should you take colloidal iodine is something you should ask your doctor about.
    But if you are worried about soy beans and soy products and other raw foods that may cause bio chemical blocking enzymes that interfere with thyroid production, colloidal iodine might be good. Thanks for reading.

  64. Threonate Says:

    “One bit of advice I have is to take vitamin D with some fat to help increase absorption. I base this only on the fact that vitamin D is fat soluble – I do not know of any trials studying this.”

    I recall reading some studies about the fat soluble vitamins and absorption, though I do not remember the URLs or IDs. It is true. They need to be taken with fat to increase absorption, but it doesn’t end there. The type of fat makes a difference as well. Vegans may not want to hear this, but saturated fat is superior to polyunsaturated fat when it comes to absorbing the most fat solubles. This is because polyunsaturated fats are more hydrophilic, due to their structure.

    The goods news for vegans? There is a natural source of fat that trumps everything else, and it is plant-based: coconut oil! It provides the greatest absorption of fat solubles, even beating butter and olive oil. Not only is it almost entirely saturated (about 92% to 96%), but due to its unique levels of MCTs, it is easier to digest.

  65. Caren Says:

    Are you absolutely sure that the lichen aren’t ‘fed’ lanolin-based d3 like they do with mushrooms? I’m vegan and lanolin-allergic, and am constantly vitamin d deficient (even though I’m always outside). I currently take prescription d2 (50K per week) which keeps me barely sufficient. Would love a d3, lanolin-free alternative.

  66. Jack Norris RD Says:


    I’m not absolutely sure about that, but you could contact the company and ask them.

  67. Dima Says:

    Caren, who feeds mushrooms with lanolin-based D3? Where can I read more about it?

  68. Caren Says:

    Hi Caren,

    I still get email notifications of comments on this page, so really happy to contribute.

    We don’t feed lanolin to lichen. The growth speed of lichens is very slow (years) and natural growth environment is such that it would be impossible to effectively force feed. You’re absolutely right that companies have done that with mushroom, but they can be rapidly grown in lab environments. If you want to discuss further, always happy to help:


  69. Caren Says:

    Dima and Jack,

    Checked with company and they use Reindeer Lichen, which is apparently high in D3.

    Until this discovery all ‘vegan’ D3 was lanolin-based D3 introduced into mushrooms, so not actually vegan. Apparently the only truly vegan D3 comes from high-latitude lichens.

  70. Isis Says:

    I’ve never seen anything about mushrooms being fed lanolin, though there is the RAW Garden of Life scam that used to claim that their D3 product was vegan (later they called it ‘vegan-friendly’ because supposedly the lanolin was not retained in the final product – missing the point of veganism completely! – and after much protest they now finally label it vegetarian), but I don’t think their product ever contained mushrooms.

    It’s my understanding that there are certain mushrooms that do produce D3 on their own. Unfortunately no one seems to have been able to get clarity from Nature’s Plus about their Source of Life Garden mushroom D3. I believe the real controversy about their product is whether it’s really D3 or D2.

    In a VRG article ( the author is not able to get conclusive evidence about the Nature’s Plus Source of Life Garden mushroom D3, but in the comments several people point to evidence that mushrooms can produce D3:

    One link ( links to a Korean study (in Korean, but with a chart in English showing D3 content):

    And in this article a researcher mentions that they found some mushrooms when exposed to UVB light can produce D3:

    I’ve been very excited about the lichen D3, but I’m not crazy about the soy-derived vitamin E included in the spray (I avoid soy), and the tablets have many other ingredients I would never take. I know that Vitashine has said that their ingredients are all organic, but I don’t see that reflected on the labels in the stores I’ve been able to find it in. If it’s not certified organic, I’m not going anywhere near it, especially if it contains soy, which in the U.S. is almost certainly GMO unless otherwise specified.

  71. M C Says:

    “Caren Says:
    October 15th, 2015 at 10:40 pm

    Hi Caren,

    I still get email notifications of comments on this page, so really happy to contribute.

    We don’t feed lanolin to lichen. The growth speed of lichens is very slow (years) and natural growth environment is such that it would be impossible to effectively force feed. You’re absolutely right that companies have done that with mushroom, but they can be rapidly grown in lab environments. If you want to discuss further, always happy to help:


    Apparently “Caren” is really “Chris”? So “Caren’s” question was planted by a company representative? Good sales job.

    I will also repeat my comment above from 2012:

    “Although the phrase “Organic, non-GMO plant source” appears on the Details tab on the home page of the Vitashine website, it’s not clear whether this refers to the entire product or to the vitamin D3 only.

    On the Ingredients tab, there is no indication that any or all of the ingredients are organic or non-GMO.”

    To which JN replied:

    “M C,

    Chris says above that all the ingredients are organic and non-GMO, at least for the original product.”

    Frankly, I don’t believe anything Chris says. I tend to believe the ingredients list more as that, I believe, is what is regulated by law, not the company’s website and not blog comments made by their representatives.

    I don’t trust this company and will stick with D2 for now.

  72. Jack Norris RD Says:

    M C,

    That is weird, but I’m thinking it’s just a pasting mistake by Chris. For the record Chris’ IP address is not the same as Caren’s.

    Chris, do you know why your comment showed up as being from Caren?


  73. Isis Says:

    It looks to me like Caren contacted Vitashine, and simply pasted Chris’ response into a comment of her own. One of the messages from Caren that contains a message signed by Chris clearly addresses Caren:

    I was prompted by this continued conversation to again look at Vitashine, and aside from the lack of organic certification and the soy-based vitamin E, I also find it to be a rather expensive product at higher doses. At the 5 sprays dose it’s only 2,000 iu, and I wouldn’t use anything lower than 5,000 iu.

  74. Chris Says:

    Hi folks,

    Sorry – just my mistake. I was replying to Caren’s question from my cell and accidentally tapped her name in the field. It was early morning here in UK!


  75. Chris Says:


    I’ve previously clarified that our products are non-GMO and the lichen we use is both non-GMO and organically produced. I just come on here to answer folks directly; damned if you do, damned if you don’t I guess.


  76. Caren Says:

    Actually I’m a psychologist who lives in MN. Just trying to find a product that doesn’t make me ill nor involves the death of any animal. Thought I’d try to share what I found out, in case others have the same issues I do.

    Wow, no wonder we vegans get such a bad rap!

  77. Jeff Says:

    I would be very interested in hearing about anyone who has taken Vitashine D3 and raised their serum levels significantly, especially in cases of deficiencies and during the winter.

    If Vitashine has produced any studies on this, it would be interesting to hear about them.

    It would also be nice to be able to link to the results of the independent testing done at University of Sterling.

  78. Nesi Says:

    I was wondering the same as Jeff.

    Please we are waiting for someone to report their experiences and valid proves.

    Thanks a lot in advance.

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