California-based ingredient company AIDP supplies VegD3, an algae-derived cholecalciferol developed for incorporation into vegan products including baby formulas, dietary supplements, and food and beverages.
“It’s produced as pure crystal cholecalciferol rather than as a vitamin D3-rich plant extract,” Kathy Lund, vice president of marketing at the company, told NutraIngredients-USA. “On this basis it can be used as a direct replacement for animal-source Vitamin D3 and can be labelled in the same way.”
A lot of vitamin D3 fortified into foods and supplements on the market comes from lanolin, also known as wool wax, which is wax secreted from the glands of wool-bearing animals.
AIDP has been supplying the ingredient since 2016. Though the company declined to share how many products on the market currently use it, Lund said that “the product is relatively new, so the sales process is still growing. We believe there is significant market potential.”
According to Statista, an aggregator of statistics, vegan has become more mainstream in the 2010s globally, as demonstrated by the continued increase in the number of products labeled as vegan between 2015 and 2020, and the share of product launches featuring the term “vegan” has also continued to increase exponentially.
It also reported that sales of vegan and vegetarian food in the US increased 23% between 2016 and 2017, hitting $2 billion.
Another widespread non-animal source for vitamin D3 available on the market is from lichen. Lund argued that lichen takes a longer time to grow than the algae used for VegD3. Moreover, she added that algae farming has a smaller environmental impact compared to lichen.
The ingredient is self-affirmed GRAS and registered with the Vegan Society to certify that it is suitable for vegan diets.
The company believes that a key differentiator in its product is that it is 100% non-animal D3, while others on the market have a combination of D3 and D2.
Some research has shown that vitamin D3 is more efficacious in raising serum vitamin D levels, such as one study in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism published in 2016 and another in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published in 2012.