VEGA News Item

D-Light at Vitamin Breakthrough - 20/12/2011

We are pleased to note what appears to be a world first in nutritional supplements.

A British company is offering a 100% vegetarian and vegan vitamin D3 supplement from a plant source. Vitashine is currently available in a spray bottle and can be added to food or used directly to ensure year-round sufficient vitamin D status.

Vitashine is derived from a specific type of lichen which very rarely for plants produces vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol). Strict vegetarians and vegans have previously relied on getting vitamin D through sun exposure and ‘topping up’ with vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) when necessary. Vitamin D3 is generally only produced in the skin, hair or feathers of animals, while Vitamin D2 can be produced from fungi and may be present in some mushrooms that have been exposed to sunlight.

It is known that vitamin D2 can improve bone health and prevent rickets but doubts remain as to whether D2 has the full efficacy of D3. Vitamin D3 from exposure to sunlight remains the main source of vitamin D for most vegetarians and vegans, but low vitamin D status is common amongst vegans and vegetarians and, indeed, in the wider population, in countries where there is insufficient sun during winter months to maintain adequate vitamin D levels. Children, old people, people with darker skin and those confined indoors or covering their skin extensively are particularly at risk of deficiency.

Vitashine has been registered with the Vegetarian and Vegan Societies and may soon be available in an alternative capsule form. The recommended daily dose of 1000IU (international units) should be ample to supply everyone’s vitamin D requirement, even without any sun exposure. The US Institute of Medicine recently revised upwards its Recommended Dietary Allowance for vitamin D to 600IU for everyone up to the age of 70, increasing to 800IU above age 70.

New Tesco Product

We also note that another new vitamin D product is now available from Tesco: Tesco own-brand vitamin D tablets which are suitable for vegetarians, though not for vegans. The new tablets do not contain the large amounts of calcium typically found in over-the-counter combined calcium and vitamin D supplements, which could result in excessive calcium intake for some people. It is advantageous to be able to take vitamin D independently of any calcium supplementation.

The Tesco tablets contain 400IU of vitamin D3, which is sufficient to meet the UK Department of Health recommendations of: “a daily 10 microgram (400IU) vitamin D supplement for people at risk of vitamin D deficiency, including pregnant and breastfeeding women, older people and people who may not have adequate sun exposure, such as those who are confined indoors or cover their skin for cultural reasons”. Many vegans and vegetarians could also fall into this category of being at risk of vitamin D deficiency.


Vitamin D3 is usually produced from lanolin derived from sheep’s wool and as such, is not suitable for vegans. It may also be produced from animal hides, though the Tesco vitamin D is labelled as being suitable for vegetarians.

Vitamin D Micrograms / International Units conversion:
5µg vitamin D   = 200IU
10µg vitamin D = 400IU
15µg vitamin D = 600IU
20µg vitamin D = 800IU
25µg vitamin D = 1000IU


Registered Charity No. 1045293
© VEGA - 2008