You are my sunshine. My vegan sunshine..you make me happy, etc…
If you didn’t already know, a true plant based, approved VITAMIN D3 source exists!
I interview the founder of VITASHINE and show you why vitamin D3 is crucial for health.
A recent bid to find a vegan source of Vitamin D3 led me to some surprising and worrying findings. My ‘hunch’ that Vitamin D3 deficiency, so prevelant in the UK, was a big contributory factor of some health issues that had been nagging me. I now believe, and I am not alone – 80% of population in Scotland are found to be highly deficient and a (1)Scottish GP, Dr Rhein, is calling it ‘unethical’ not to inform the public of the health risks associated with not getting enough daily sun. Scottish MPs are calling for countrywide screening. Jordan Lite (no pun intended) reports for the Scientific American (2) that 3/4 of the population the US are dangerously low in what is called ‘the sunshine vitamin’.
The question is…….Why don’t we ALL know about it?
In addition to that, whilst digging around, I also uncovered a worrying issue for vegans seeking to insure their own good health, and it appears that proper, legal food and supplement labelling is woefully lacking. Some companies are covering up their use of animal products and slapping a V on their products and stating they are vegan when they are not. Thankfully, my research led me to a product from a surprising source, with Vegan Society and Vegetarian Society UK approval. I interviewed one of the product founders. More on that in a bit.
It seems no longer contested, in all the recent studies (3) on the health benefits of Vitamin D3 (not really a vitamin as our body can make it from sunshine…more a hormone), that it is a MAJOR player in our health. Lack of sunshine goes far beyond us just feeling a little fed up. Deficiency has been linked to heart disease, rickets, bone softening, depression, stroke, MS and birth deficiencies, cancer, insomnia, acid reflux, IBS and colds and flu… to name but a few. It is estimated in the UK, by the end of the winter 65% of us are SERVERLY lacking in Vit D. Those with dark, highly pigmented skins (less sunshine can penetrate the skin) and Muslim women who cover most of their body with clothing are not the only ones affected. We stay indoors far more than previous generations, we cover up with sunscreen. Geographic factors play large part too with dreary winters or countries where summer often fails to live up to expectations.
The fact is we ALL need optimum levels of the stuff. Some foods are fortified with it but they are currently mostly animal derived. VEGANS have had a hard time of finding a true plant based source. Garden of Life stated on their website their product is vegan, whilst further reading finds their product is sourced from sheep (lanolin). Jack Norris, a registered dietician and blogger, found other companies also selling products with unsubstantiated claims.
Right now the situation with the food lablelling syteme for vegans is down to either TRUST or a company seeking scrutiny and creditation from the Vegan Society in the UK. America has no similar organisation to test VEGAN products (I’m not aware of laws in other countries that accredit either. I’d love to hear from you if you are aware of any). It makes me feel very appreciative of living in UK where the Vegan Society are located and companies are more likely to seek Society approval. Clearly, something needs to be done to make it compulsory for companies to have their products verified. Especially with the numbers of those choosing a vegan diet increasing, it leaves it open for unethical companies who want to get in on the upturn to grab a piece of the market.
Do vegans have to blindly trust or is there a Vit D3 product we can be sure of? Thankfully, the answer is..YES! VITASHINE D3
Once, I’d found the source I was very keen to speak to Vitashine to get their story. Mark Broughton agreed to answer some of my questions.
Mark, a former product developer for Boots and Holland & Barrett, became disillusioned with the mass market for seemingly unnecessary supplements a few years ago, and decided to go it alone to produce supplements that truly contribute to human health. He began with making Opti 3, a vegan Omega oil which he found to be superior to flax oil. Then a business associate highlighted the need for a vegan source of vitamin D3, which studies have suggested accumulates in the body as opposed to Vit D2 which depletes more rapidly, and it captured his interest. Six years previously Mark had agreed to a pact with his wife that he’d would go vegetarian if she’d quit smoking to boost their health. So he’d long been aware of the need for plant-based vitamins and supplements.
What followed was 2.5 years of research involving Stirling and Reading Scientific Services. Then lichen, a symbiotic (bacteria and yeast) organism was suggested to them by Plymouth School of Agriculture. After a further 18 months development, to remove toxic substances (don’t eat this from the forest floor, people) a sustainable, vegan product was born. Mushrooms, lanolin and lichen are in fact, chemically identical. However, lichen is rich is D3, and sustainable. Although it only grows at centimetres per year, the company sources it from China, Scandinavia and North American, according to the time of year. They would have to be harvesting over 500 kilos of the plant per month before stocks were depleted.
In summer 2012, admittedly not the best time of year, VITASHINE D3 came onto the market. It is currently sold widely in Europe and the USA. It is also set to be distributed to India in early 2013.
To me, Mark is clearly, along with his three partners, dedicated to supporting and improving health for all. If no animal needs to meet an abitore or suffer as a bi-product to health then he is passionate about finding the way. He told me the company have more animal friendly products in the pipeline too.
As we (vegans) grow in number, my hope is to see worldwide regulatory bodies who legally supervise the food and supplements on our shelves. Right now it seems faith in food labelling is waining. One good thing, where our food is concerned I guess, is that more and more we are choosing to cook from scratch so we have knowledge of what we are eating and cut out the unnecessary cheap fillers and additive. We can choose to get nutrients from healthy foods but we cannot do this with most supplements. I don’t have a chemistry lab knocking around in my garage, and chances are you don’t either. Lets hope the work of the vegan society can reach further and be taken up as industry standards.
You can purchase Vitashine D3 at most natural food stores in the UK and they are gradually placing their product to be more widely available. Google search and you will find it or you can order direct from their website. Vitashine
Please let me know if you found this article of interest! x
Further (interesting!) reading: