This vs. That: Vitamin D3

As a functioning member of the 21st century, you're probably well aware: we're spending more time indoors than we did just a few generations ago. When we are outdoors, we are (good job, us) slathered with sunblock, which means collectively we aren't producing the vitamin D we need. So, no-brainer: When we set out to design our Essential for Women, we knew we wanted to include enough vitamin D to fill this gap. Arriving at the right form of the ingredient, however, was a journey. Let's take a walk, shall we?

We were dead set on a vegan and vegetarian product, which has historically meant using vitamin D2. It's a very common form of D for supplements because it's available in a synthetic form that's cheap to make; the top-shelf stuff comes from mushrooms, and tends to cost more than many manufacturers are willing to spend. But no matter the quality, we had a big problem with D2: The natural form of D, the one we make in the body, is actually D3 and the two are pretty different. D2 isn't readily absorbable and can end up doing more harm than good. We knew we didn't want that stuff.

The problem was that most D3 comes from lanolin, a waxy substance derived from sheep's wool. It can also come from fish liver, but that didn't get us closer to our vegan mission either. Luckily, we found a third way. Recently, researchers have been developing a new form of D3, one that's derived from lichen, which, if you're forgetting your botany here, is a symbiotic plant comprised of algae and fungus. It's right at the beginning of the food chain, so it's about as clean a source for nutrients as you can get. There are many different types of lichen, and it turns out one is packed with vitamin D3 without D2.

Which means we get the best of both worlds and all the vegan vampires among us still get their vitamin D.

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