The Vegetarian Resource Group Blog

Source of Life and Its “Vegan” Vitamin D3 from Mushrooms

Posted on September 12, 2011 by The VRG Blog Editor

by Jeanne Yacoubou, MS
VRG Research Director

In July 2011, a long-time VRG member contacted us about a Source of Life vitamin supplement recently purchased by her mother. She wondered if the company’s statement about a vegan Vitamin D3 derived from mushrooms were true and asked us to look into it.

To the best of our knowledge, mushrooms are able to produce Vitamin D2, otherwise known as ergocalciferol, when exposed to ultraviolet light (1). Cholecalciferol, or Vitamin D3, is usually derived from lanolin in sheep’s wool. Except for a synthetic Vitamin D3 precursor currently given only to poultry (2), and Vitamin D3 purportedly produced by lichen (3), we have not been aware of an all-plant-based Vitamin D3. The VRG was curious to learn about the cholecalciferol that Source of Life said was produced by mushrooms.

The VRG e-mailed and called Source of Life. We spoke with a customer service representative. Our first question concerned their product called “Bone Support Vcaps” (Product No. 30729). Since it is listed as “Vitamin D3 (from organic mushroom; cholecalciferol),” which suggests that there are two sources of the Vitamin D3, we asked if there were in fact two different sources, possibly Vitamin D2 from the mushrooms and Vitamin D3 from lanolin. The consumer representative put me on hold to check with a supervisor. She came back on to say: “[The supervisor says] it’s from one source only; mushrooms.”

Our next question concerned Source of Life’s Vitamin D3 Vcaps (Product No. 30735). They are listed as “100% plant-source cholecalciferol.” We asked the consumer rep to specify the plant source. She responded by saying “Mushrooms are the plant source.”

Lastly, The VRG inquired if their mushroom-produced Vitamin D3 had been independently confirmed by a third-party laboratory. The rep said that they had been. When we requested a copy of the results, we were put through to an “Inquiry Line” and left a message stating that we’d like to see the lab results.

When we followed up and asked for more detail on how their mushrooms produced Vitamin D3 because there is no detail about this on the company website, we were put through to the Manager of Research and Development, but as of this writing, have not yet received a response. If readers have more information, please let us know. Thank you.



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  1. 01 07 12 08:32

    Vegan D3 – “That doesn’t exist.” – The truth is out there! « Botanical Nutrition

15 to “Source of Life and Its “Vegan” Vitamin D3 from Mushrooms”

  1. Amy Fried says:

    I would also like to know about a similar claim from the makers of Ami Cat “vegan” cat food. They say their product contains a vegan form of D3. Pangea veganstore has not been able to verify this, so they will not carry it in their store; VegEssentials, however, does carry it.


  2. Gene says:

    I read somewhere that Vitamin D3 from mushrooms comes from laying the mushrooms in the sun to absorb the UV rays producing D3. I hope that’s true!

  3. Chris says:

    Hmm…if they lay the mushrooms in the sun, then that is exactly how the non-vegan D3 caps work, except they use sheep wool. I’ve read that lab tests should something like 5100IU of D3 in the actual vitamins. I know everything I read said that it’s impossible to get D3 from a plant source, however, if you lay the mushrooms in the sun, that makes all the sense in the world to me!

  4. jim says:

    With all the scrutiny on vegan forms of D3 does anybody know the source from which Nordic Naturals gets theirs?

  5. Dawn says:

    Nature’s Plus, Source of Life, Garden, Bone Support, 120 Veggie Caps says they use mushrooms for D3 (Scroll down for info) ~

  6. Dima says:

    Jeanne, mushrooms do produce D3 too according to a 1997 Korean study:

    Jim, Nordic Naturals get their D3 from lichen Although Vitashine, who provide the vitamin to Country Life and Food Movement, are not mentioned by them. Does that mean they make the vitamin by themselves?

  7. Dima – unfortunately your sources aren’t reliable. We need to see primary references, not a bunch of marketing material. There is reference to lichen containing D2, but I have seen nothing that indicates that fungi produce D3.

  8. Melissa says:

    hey. this is an old blog post and i was wondering if there have been any updates as of late? i am curious about whether or not these questions have been resolved. thanks!

  9. Melissa says:

    this is what i have found from, “They were also able to show that mushrooms not only produce vitamin D2, but can produce vitamin D3 and vitamin D4.”

  10. Rob Seeman says:

    Vitashine is the first and only legitimate form of Vegan D3, derived from lichen. It is what is used in the Nordic Naturals, Country Life and The Food Movement products.

    As for cholecaliferol in mushroom fruiting bodies (not mycelia), YES there is. Here is just one reference on one mushroom where cholecalciferol (D3) was isolated by alcohol extraction.

  11. Chuck Batson says:

    @Rob Seeman – There’s a single study at the link you provided, “Stimulative effects of (22E,24R)-ergosta-7,22-diene-3beta,5alpha,6beta-triol from fruiting bodies of Tricholoma auratum, on a mouse osteoblastic cell line, MC3T3-E1.” by K. Hata, et. al. The study investigates differentiation in mouse cells. The single mention of cholecalciferol (vitamin D3) is in the statement “cholecalciferol […] were purchased from Sigma Chemical Co. Ltd.” In my reading I see nothing to indicate that the cholecalciferol was extracted from a non-animal source.

  12. Skye says:

    Mushrooms DO NOT produce D3 in any significant quantities. There have been studies where they have found small amounts of D3 and D4 in mushrooms but it is very small amounts.

    Mushrooms contain the compound ergosterol. This is pro-vitamin D2. When mushrooms are exposed to sunlight or UV light, ergosterol converts into vitamin D2 in significant quantities.

    I would question any product claiming to have D3 from mushrooms. It is almost certainly D2 and not D3.

  13. colors says:

    Do you mind if I quote a few of your articles as
    long as I provide credit and sources back to your webpage?
    My website is in the exact same area of interest as yours
    and my users would genuinely benefit from some of the information you
    provide here. Please let me know if this okay with
    you. Regards!

  14. The VRG Blog Editor says:

    You would have to make requests per article. We can give permission for some articles and not others. Thanks!

  15. Dorothy says:

    i am questioning their vitamin k2 supplement too which claims to be sourced from only organic plant based foods when apparently the only vegan source of k2 is natto. hmm?

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