In the realm of health and nutrition, we often find unexpected connections. One such fascinating link is between Vitamin D, an essential nutrient for our body, and lanolin, a substance derived from sheep’s wool.

This article aims to explore the intricate relationship between these two seemingly unrelated entities and the importance of Vitamin D in our lives.

The Importance of Vitamin D

Detailed discussion on the role of Vitamin D in the body

Vitamin D, commonly known as the ‘sunshine vitamin’, is vital for our health. It primarily facilitates the absorption of calcium and phosphate in our bodies, thereby promoting healthy bone growth.

This nutrient’s importance extends beyond bone health, contributing to immune system function and potentially having mood-regulating properties.

The benefits and potential risks of Vitamin D deficiency

The deficiency of this crucial nutrient can lead to various health issues. A weakened immune system, fatigue, depression, and in severe cases, bone abnormalities like rickets in children and osteoporosis in adults can all stem from a lack of Vitamin D.

Natural Sources of Vitamin D in Food
Natural Sources of Vitamin D in Food

Vitamin D Sources

Natural Sources: Sunlight, Food

Our bodies are naturally equipped to produce Vitamin D when our skin is exposed to sunlight, specifically ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation.

Additionally, foods like fatty fish, cheese, and egg yolks serve as natural sources of this nutrient.

Supplement Sources: overview of different forms (Vitamin D2 & D3)

However, due to factors such as limited sun exposure or dietary restrictions, many people turn to dietary supplements to fulfill their Vitamin D needs.

These supplements come in two forms: Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) and Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol).

Summer Sun-Best Source of Vitamin D
Summer Sun-Best Source of Vitamin D

Unconventional Source: Sheep’s Wool

Explanation of what Lanolin is

An intriguing source for Vitamin D3 supplements is lanolin, a waxy substance derived from sheep’s wool.

Lanolin, secreted by sheep to protect and condition their wool and skin, contains 7-dehydrocholesterol, a precursor to Vitamin D3.

Process of obtaining lanolin from sheep’s wool

Lanolin is extracted from sheep’s wool in a harmless process, making it a sustainable source of Vitamin D3.

Real Wool Sheep sheared
Merino Sheep Shearing

From Lanolin to Vitamin D

Explanation of how UVB radiation converts 7-dehydrocholesterol to Vitamin D3

The 7-dehydrocholesterol present in lanolin undergoes a transformation when exposed to UVB radiation, converting it into Vitamin D3. This process mirrors the natural production of Vitamin D3 in our skin.

The process of purifying Vitamin D3 for dietary supplements

Once formed, Vitamin D3 is further processed and purified to be fit for human consumption in dietary supplements.

The Role of Sheep’s Wool in the Vitamin D Supplement Industry

How the Industry sources and uses Lanolin

The Vitamin D supplement industry has effectively utilized the unique relationship between sheep’s wool and Vitamin D.

Lanolin, ethically sourced from sheep’s wool, provides a sustainable and abundant resource for the production of Vitamin D3 supplements.

The Impact on the sheep farming industry

The extraction of lanolin not only benefits the supplement industry but also contributes an additional income stream to the sheep farming industry.

Lanolin - a Grease from Sheep's Wool
Lanolin – a Grease from Sheep’s Wool

Vitamin D Production from Sheep’s Wool and Its Market Value

The Science and Economics of Extracting Vitamin D from Sheep’s Wool

The process of extracting Vitamin D from sheep’s wool is a fascinating blend of biology, chemistry, and economics, with a number of variables at play. The breed of the sheep, its diet, and the climate in which it resides all have an impact on the amount of Vitamin D that can potentially be produced from its wool.

The key component of sheep’s wool involved in Vitamin D production is lanolin, a waxy substance that makes up about 5-25% of the weight of dried wool. Assuming an average lanolin yield of 10%, a sheep producing around 5 kg of wool per year would provide approximately 500 grams of lanolin.

This substance contains 7-dehydrocholesterol, which is converted into Vitamin D3 when exposed to UVB light. The intensity and duration of this light exposure determine the efficiency of the conversion process.

Despite the wealth of factors influencing the process, even a small amount of lanolin can generate a substantial amount of Vitamin D3, given the relatively low dosage required for human supplementation.

As a result, even though the precise quantity of Vitamin D producible from a single sheep’s wool is challenging to determine, sheep’s wool is undeniably a significant source of Vitamin D3 in the supplement industry.

The Market Value of Vitamin D: More Valuable Than Gold?

Moving on to the economics of Vitamin D, the cost of this essential nutrient in its pure form can differ greatly, with influences ranging from the form (D2 or D3), concentration, volume of purchase, to the source of the Vitamin D.

Vitamin D valueable like Gold

In 2022, the typical price range for a month’s supply of consumer-grade Vitamin D3 supplements was about $20 to $40. However, the pricing of bulk, pure Vitamin D used by manufacturers is usually not publicly listed.

When evaluating the cost of Vitamin D in pill form per gram, it’s crucial to remember that the pill’s weight includes not only the Vitamin D but also other ingredients like fillers and the capsule material.

This fact makes it challenging to pinpoint a precise cost per gram of Vitamin D. However, it’s estimated that the pure chemical Vitamin D found within supplements could be worth a staggering $2400 per gram – making it more valuable than gold!

For the most accurate, detailed, and current information, consultation with healthcare professionals, supplement manufacturers, or suppliers is recommended.

Considerations for Vegetarians and Vegans

Explanation that lanolin-derived Vitamin D3 is suitable for vegetarians but not vegans

While lanolin-derived Vitamin D3 is a suitable supplement for vegetarians, it does not align with vegan dietary restrictions due to its animal origins.

Alternative sources of Vitamin D for Vegans

For those following a strict vegan diet, alternatives such as Vitamin D2 supplements or specific types of Vitamin D3 supplements derived from lichen, a type of fungus, are available.

These plant-based supplements ensure that everyone, regardless of dietary preferences or restrictions, can maintain optimal Vitamin D levels and enjoy the associated health benefits.

Always remember to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new supplement regimen.

The Cost of Vitamin D Supplements

Overview of the price range for Vitamin D supplements

The cost of Vitamin D supplements can significantly vary depending on several factors, such as the brand, dosage, and the number of tablets or capsules per bottle.


As of the last update in September 2021, the general price range for a month’s supply of high-quality Vitamin D3 supplements was between $10 to $40.

Factors that influence the price

It’s important to note that prices can fluctuate due to market dynamics, availability, and location. Consumers are advised to shop around, compare prices, and verify the quality of supplements before making a purchase.


Recap of the connection between Vitamin D and sheep’s wool

In conclusion, the fascinating connection between Vitamin D and sheep’s wool is a prime example of how we’ve harnessed the gifts of nature in innovative ways.

This unexpected relationship not only provides a sustainable and ethical source of Vitamin D3 but also adds value to the sheep farming industry.

Final thoughts on the importance of understanding the sources of our nutrients

The next time you take your Vitamin D supplement, remember the humble sheep that indirectly contributed to your health.

Understanding the sources of our nutrients deepens our connection to nature and our appreciation for the intricate systems that support our health and well-being.

Read also:

Wool How does a Wool Fiber Work? Scientific Article

Why Wool is the World’s Most Efficient Fiber


  1. National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Dietary Supplements: Vitamin D Fact Sheet for Health Professionals (
  2. Linus Pauling Institute Micronutrient Information Center: Vitamin D (
  3. WebMD: The Truth About Vitamin D: Can You Get Too Much Vitamin D? (
  4. Sheep Central: More to wool than meets the eye (
  5. Science Direct: Lanolin (
Categories: Wool

Marco Heitner

Marco is the author and creator of the World’ and holds the "Wool Fibre Science" certification. He founded this website because of his love for nature, tradition and exquisite all-natural fibers like merino wool, cashmere, and alpaca. The way local communities interact with their environment and produce valuable, irreplaceable natural resources such as wool is inspiring.


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