Vitamin D2 review: Drisdol drops

May 27, 2010

Drisdol bottle

Is it just me, or does that dropper look humungous?

Update: Sue reports that the product’s been discontinued – see the comments for more info and other options.

As followup to our parenting columns on Vitamin D (see Vitamin D for Vegan-Raised Infants and Vegan Infant Formula: Nonexistant?) we finally got around to getting some liquid form vitamin D2 in the house (remember kids, D2 is vegan because R2D2 is cool, and ergocalciferol is the good one because I’m vegan, ergo I know more about weird vitamins than anyone on the street!)

Rather than figure out international shipping (as many of you know, we’re in Canada,) we decided to let the professionals figure it out and headed to the pharmacy to order some of the Drisdol drops that Jodie pointed out in a comment on a previous post.)  We basically just printed out the PDF, brought it to the store (in our case, Shopper’s Drug Mart,) and said “get this for us, mmmK?”

And there were no hassles.  I’ll be honest, I felt a little weird custom ordering something from a pharmacy, but apparently it’s something they do all the time, and no prescription is needed.  We got the drops the next afternoon.

Just in case the PDF goes offline, it’s made by Sanofi-Aventis, and the DIN is 02017598. Ours was made in Canada for an American company, so hopefully it’s widely available.

So what’s it cost?

Jodie said it was $68 for her, but we got it for a little under $50 (Canadian.)  That might seem like a lot, but it’s actually pretty competitive with other forms of D2: the cheapest we’ve been able to find Now brand D2 pills (1000 IU strength) is $8 for 120 vcaps, which is 6.7 cents per 1000 IU.  The Drisdol drops come in a 60 mL bottle and each mL has 8,288 IU (there’s a handy dropper that’ll dose out about 207 IU at a time,) so that’s about 10 cents per 1000.  Sure, it adds up, but maybe there’s a difference between liquids and pills.  Who knows.

The Drisdol is almost a third of the price of the D2 spray we mentioned in a previous post (at the price we were charged,) so at this point it’s the cheapest D2 liquid we’ve been able to find, and liquids are pretty much the only way a newborn’s going to take it in, so we’re calling it a win.

Interestingly, if we were to dose the stuff out at 400 IU a day (that’s Health Canada’s recommendation,) we’d have  about a three and a half year supply from this bottle.  Unfortunately, it expires at the end of next year, so I guess Angela and I will start taking drops too to make sure we use it all up in time.

Speaking of which…

So how does it taste?

With such a small range of options available, there’s not a lot you can do if the drops taste like, say, raw sewage, but that’d kinda suck when you’re trying to convince a small child to take them.  Fortunately, we didn’t feel an urge to scrub our tongues with a steel-bristle brush after our taste test.

Angela and I both tried a drop directly on our tongue (the box says to add it to milk, by which I’m sure they mean soy milk, but we wanted to taste it fully.)  It wasn’t bad, but the closest flavour we could compare it to was burning.  It’s definitely something you’ll want to mix into another liquid; probably a sweet liquid at that.

For us, the D2 problem is fully solved.  If you’ve found another solution, or managed to order Drisdol from another country, let us know in the comments!

Drisdol box

(As always, there’s a warning that you should consult with your health care provider before using the product, and we did, so nyah nyah nyah.)

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

miso vegan May 27, 2010 at 11:38 am

I think this is a great solution (heh). The difference between pills and liquids is worth pondering. D2 pills have fillers and binders, so we’re paying for the fluff that holds the pill in shape. Sometimes they’re coated, too, to make them smoother/easier to swallow. Liquids, in addition to having fewer additives, are generally easier and faster to metabolize. So I’m calling this a win.

P.S. The burning could be a warning sign that one should not take it directly, that is, it probably needs a buffer, which is why they suggest soymilk. I’m thinking that it might be like how free magnesium ions are highly flammable, and how many vitamin supplements are available “buffered” for people with sensitive stomachs….

Jodie May 27, 2010 at 1:24 pm

I was taking it in juice- it was definitely not pleasant on its own. Glad to hear it’s working out for you!

Jason May 27, 2010 at 1:27 pm

Yeah, as a followup, the aftertaste lingered a long time for me, but hardly at all for Angela. Juice is a good call, though I’ve heard that it’s best to take D with oils; something about the way it gets broken down in your body.

angela May 27, 2010 at 2:10 pm

yeah, the burning wasn’t like, say, oil of oregano on my tongue, that stuff burns! It tasted like nothing at first, then the best taste that could come to mind was burning. strange! but for me the taste went away very fast.

C Kane May 27, 2010 at 9:59 pm

Very timely. I’ve been taking something similar, or maybe identical but under a different name: Calcidol Drops with the same secondary line of “Ergocalciferol Oral Solution USP”,and bottle states same 8288IU per mL. Bottle says “Manufactured for Patrin Pharma, Skokie, IL 60076.” Don’t see a DIN number on the bottle but it does say NDC 39328-357-60 which might be useful to your pharmacist (or druggist or chemist, depending on which English speaking country you’re from)

An important point is to NOT put it in the fridge, that could ruin it, the bottle has upper limits on temperature as well as lower, so make sure to read that to not ruin your $68 (or whatever..mine was close to that price you quote Jodie as citing..)

Let’s see, does the cheaper price in Canada have anything to do with what I’ve heard about other countries negotiating prices? It’s certainly true for drugs in general (here we’re not allowed to have our corporate-owned government do that..Walmart can negotiate lower drug prices for its employees…our government negotiating lower drug prices for citizens? What do you think, corporate profits grow on trees?? If God wanted us to have government of the people, we would have been born without clothes, or some mixed metaphor like that..) But just remember again, don’t put in fridge, this stuff is cheap on a unit basis but not so cheap for the whole bottle.

I tend to agree with miso vegan about the burning probably not being a good sign. I put a few drops in a third of a cup of water and the taste is pretty minimal. If still bothers you have some strong tasting food you like to take a bite out of right after you sip it down..

Jason May 27, 2010 at 10:13 pm

Thanks for the tip on storage – I was wondering about that, and it wasn’t written in big letters that I noticed (I’ll have to look again…)

We’ve got ours in the medicine cabinet, figure that’ll be fine.

Terri June 21, 2010 at 9:07 pm

I understand that D2 is the type of vitamin D found in plants, but Vitamin D3 supplements are synthesized in the lab (as are vitamin D2 supplements). How does that make them “not vegan?”

Terri June 21, 2010 at 9:12 pm

BTW, not to bash, but the efficacy of D2 is 1/3 of D3.

Jason June 23, 2010 at 10:49 am

Thanks Terri, and no bash inferred! There’s a lot of confusion out there surrounding D2 vs D3. My current understanding is that D2 gets absorbed at the same rate as D3, but doesn’t last in the body as long, at least when you’re taking insanely high doses of the stuff, which means as long as you’re taking a reasonable amount of it every day, it’s basically the same. I refer to Jack Norris for this kind of stuff; he’s a vegan RD who posts updates on the latest research here: http://jacknorrisrd.com/?cat=28

As for D3 and veganism, it’s true that it’s made in a lab, but the source ingredients are animal-derived (typically lanolin.)

Martin Deffner July 27, 2010 at 8:03 am

If there’s anyone from Europe interested in liquid vegan vitamin D, check out Stérogyl.

Also,

We predict the future recommended daily allowance (RDA) for vitamin D, for otherwise healthy people, will be at least 1000 IU/day (in the new official units for vitamins, this translates to 25 ug/day). This amount is already the consensus of nutrition experts in the field of osteoporosis and vitamin D.

(Source)

Sue September 13, 2010 at 4:58 pm

I was buying Drisdol here in Canada from the pharmacy for $36 a bottle. In Alberta it is covered under the drug benefit list. However please note that the product has been discontinued by the manufacturer sanofi-aventis as of the end of July without notice. Just found this out when I tried to get some more today. The toll free customer service number for them is 1-800-265-7927. Don’t know if this applies to the States.

Jason September 14, 2010 at 9:48 am

Thanks for the heads up Sue! It looks like there are a few generic names for D2 drops, so hopefully it’s just Drisdol that’s affected (if I recall, Sanofi-Aventis wasn’t the manufacturer, it was made in Quebec for them.) Searching for “ergocalciferol drops” seems to be a good start, but we’ve got a pretty full bottle still that’ll last another year so if anyone buys another brand I’d love to hear a report to share with everyone!

Ava Odoemena September 18, 2010 at 3:39 pm

Aloha (Hallo Martin:-)

I’m happy we have (discovered) something similar in Europe, as Martin mentioned many vegans (and non-vegans as a matter of fact) are on that Sterogyl stuff. It’s a scary name for Vitamin D2, you’d expect to associate that more with what a cheating body builder would order from spam-mail linked websites. But it’s just D2 and dirt cheap. A bottle is around €2,50 / C$3.22 / US$3.13 / £UK2.00 (as of Sa, 18. Sept. 2010 21:25h) and holds 400K International Units.

BTW, vitamin D in drops is freely soluble and does not need to be consumed with something fatty. Since it’s pretty much heat resistent as well, you might as well put it in tea or your tomato soup.

One aspect which is very confusing is the debate about the daily intake of vitamin D. To sum it up: you probably need vastly more than the amount currently recommended. If you unsure what the vitamin D status of *your* body is, you can have a lab test done and it’s called 25(OH)D. Not to be confused with the 1,25(OH)D.

For example, for me to maintain an adequate 25(OH)D level, I must consume 10,000 IU every day. That’s not a strange commadot transciption error (in Germany we use the dot as a thousand separator, and comma for decimal), I mean 10 thousand IU for my 25(OH)D to remain at a good altitude.

So if you have some cash to spare, and especially if you have access to sane health care, go and let them check your 25(OH)D status.

One last word about efficiency of D2/D3: As Jason pointed out D2 is about as efficient, but fades out faster. If you supplement regularly, this is irrelevant because the storage is continiously refilled before your level drops – if you supplement enough for the actual needs of your body.

Ron Diamond January 12, 2011 at 12:16 pm

Miso Vegan doesn’t understand how the body works. The difference between pill and drops is SIGNIFICANT. I am a retired pharmacist that had to sit through human physiology classes, so here it goes:

The fillers, excipiants, etc are to be forgotten…unimportant.
But pills(tablets) by mouth cause the Vit D to be significantly changed. First, by the stomach acids and enzymes and then by
the ‘first pass’ which means that what that is absorbed into circulation first goes to the liver where other enzymes are there
to destroy the product(every product) that is absorbed; they are ‘metabolized’=changed in some way.

In contrast, if the drops are used and absorbed through the buccal cavity(in the mouth) the vitamins avoid both the stomach acids and the first pass and the full drop is allowed to enter the blood stream and go where it will!

A BIG difference. A little knowledge is cool…too bad girls won’t let me discuss human physiology as soon as I would like to….but, that is another story.

If anyone has other questions about prescription and non prescription medicines please feel free to email me at:
diamond0200@comcast.net
Homeopathy is nonsense so I don’t waste my life discussing that crap. If there is real science behind a conversation then please email me! You will find that I will nix a lot of advertised items, but if an item is good, I will tell you so and push it….such as Vit D drops.
By the way….people should be taking 1200ug not 400ug per day.
My children have been on Drisdol since about 4 years of age; I wanted their bones to grow well…and now there is significant scientific literature to show how beneficial Vit D is in other areas…such as cancer! Exciting. I have forgotten a lot, but I can reread and explain what is what if you are interested.
Peace and love…
Ron Diamond R.Ph.(retired)

Jason January 12, 2011 at 12:38 pm

Thanks Ron, that’s interesting stuff! Have you heard anything about replacement brands for Drisdol now that it seems to be discontinued?

David July 31, 2011 at 6:27 pm

The product mentioned above by C Kane (Calcidol) is available. The NDC number is for USA while DIN system is for Canada. A pharmacist/chemist/druggist can help you order based on that. BTW, if you add to juice,water or milk/soda etc., there is no buring sensation. Ron is correct as to pharmacology/physiology. Besides liquid will have a faster absorption rate than tablet (tmax) as tablet has to fist dissolve and then absorbed. Just from my classes that I loved!

colleen January 7, 2013 at 4:34 pm

Can anyone tell me how to find vitamin D in an oral liquid form that doesn’t have any animal products or oils added? I recently found out that most Vit D comes from lanolin which i’m allergic to. Need help!!

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