Vegetarian vitamin D3 maker explores new production process to secure future supplies


Mark Broughton is a director at ESB Developments, which recently entered into an agreement to supply its 100% vegan and vegetarian vitamin D3 Vitashine (from lichen) to Global Health Trax (GHT) for use in supplements and other products at United States, Canada and other selected markets.

Wild harvest process

D3 is currently harvested in the wild from lichens that grow on rocks, trees and other places in North America, Asia and Scandinavia, Broughton told NutraIngredients-USA at EngredeaExpo West in Anaheim.

It is collected in buckets and washed at the source, then subjected to a multi-step extraction process (using ethanol), purification and concentration in the UK before being added to a carrier. vegetable oil (medium chain triglycerides). It is then sent to GHT in cans to be transformed into finished products (sprays, softgels, etc.).

“We would like to use super critical C02 extraction, but we don’t have the money at this point”,Broughton said.

Longer term, we would like to be able to cultivate it internally

He added: “The species of lichen that we use to extract cholecalciferol (D3) is quite ubiquitous, and we believe we can make at least 500 million doses of 1000 IU (international unit) per year. But in the longer term, we would like to be able to develop it internally.

“Lichen is actually a combination of a fungus and an algae, so we could grow it in large vats and feed it with simple sugars. We wouldn’t need more than one vessel because the volumes needed are actually very low.

“We’re probably going to need two or three years to figure out the speed of growth and how to maximize returns, and there’s also a funding issue. But that’s the longer term plan.

Currently, Vitashine can be put into sprays and capsules, but Broughton is also working on the development of microencapsulated powders to expand its areas of application, he said.

“The powders should be ready by the middle of this year, so we should be able to add Vitashine to a wider variety of food products.”

Patent protection

Broughton’s company has filed for patent protection for the extraction and concentration process and also seeks to protect any internal cultivation process, he said.

Why vegetarian D3?

Most of the vitamin D from plants is vitamin D2. However, evidence suggests that D3 – which currently comes from lanolin (the pale yellow oil found in sheep’s wool) – was better used by the body, he said.

“We have researched many candidate plant materials – lichens, mosses, fungi, etc.

The reaction to the product at the Anaheim show was “incredibly positive ”,said Broughton, who works closely with the vegan and vegetarian community in the UK.

“There is a real demand from vegans and vegetarians, but many other people are also surprised to find that vitamin D3 comes from lanolin or other animal sources and would also prefer to get it from a vegetable source. “he said.

“They are also concerned that the sheep bath and unwanted compounds will enter the lanolin-derived D3.”

As for the cost, he added: “Lichen-sourced D3 is more expensive than lanolin-sourced vitamin D3, but not overwhelmingly. Based on the cost of use, you use so little of it that it’s very competitive.

Good timing

The timing of the launch in the US was very good, he admitted. “There has been a huge amount of scientific data published in this area and consumer awareness of the need for vitamin D continues to grow.. “

Vitashine is the only vitamin D3 product registered worldwide with the Vegetarian Society and the Vegan Society, based in the UK.

GHT’s herbal Vitamin D3 line of finished products are available in both spray and capsule form. The spray can be applied to food or sprayed directly into the mouth.

GHT also makes these products available to customers as a private label offering through its subsidiary, Health Specialties Manufacturing.

The sunshine vitamin

Vitamin D refers to two biologically inactive precursors – D3, also known as cholecalciferol, and D2, also known as ergocalciferol. Precursors D3 and D2 are converted in the liver and kidneys to 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25 (OH) D), the inactive “storage” form, and 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D (1,25 (OH) 2D), the biologically active form that is tightly controlled by the body.

While our bodies make vitamin D when exposed to the sun, the levels in some northern countries are so low during the winter months that our bodies do not produce any vitamin D at all, which means the dietary supplements and fortified foods are considered by many to be the best way to increase vitamin D intake

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