Vitamin D in Pastured Pork

written by

Rachel Palma

posted on

February 10, 2023

Vitamin D intake is a hot topic these days. There are studies upon studies about the importance of Vitamin D and recommendations on the best way to get it into your body.

While we are not doctors, scientists, or nutritionists - we are farmers who believe a little bit of observation and common sense can go a long way. But you can also check out the study linked at the bottom that was done by scientists ;)

Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin, meaning it does not dissolve in water and it is stored in our fat.

Most people know that A) it is not uncommon to be deficient in Vitamin D and B) one of the best ways to obtain Vitamin D is through our skin when it is exposed to sunlight.

But what about those of us living in areas where it gets cold in Winter? We greatly lack sun exposure during these dark, cold Winter days, making it even harder to get adequate Vitamin D. And even in the warmer seasons, most of us can admit to not getting as much sunlight as we should.

Now think of our pastured pigs:

  1. They are outside all day everyday (with adequate shelter to run to in harsh weather, of course!)
  2. A pig's skin is strikingly similar to human skin (it is used in the medical field for wound healing, grafting, etc.)

If our pigs are constantly exposed to sunlight in every season from day 1 until the end of their life, think about how much Vitamin D they are absorbing through their skin! And all that Vitamin D is getting stored where? In their fat.

So, when we eat pork from pastured pigs, especially their fat, we are consuming that ever-important fat soluble Vitamin D.

Observation: the pigs live outside 24/7 and have similar skin to humans. Common Sense: if they store Vitamin D in their fat and we eat their fat then we get that Vitamin D into our bodies! (It can be that simple, right?)

Does that mean we can just eat some pork fat every day and never go outside or look for other sources of vitamin D? No, of course not. We are big proponents of balance and moderation in everything, including our health and diet.

Maybe a good balance is something like: eat a balanced diet with a good amount of animal fat (particularly lard from pastured pigs) and protein, get outside as much as possible, learn how to limit/cope with stress. And even still, for some of us, a little vitamin D supplementation may be necessary. There's no one-size-fits-all formula!

Have you ever rendered lard? Do you cook with lard regularly? It is a staple in our home. Check out this guide on how to render lard from our pork fat.

P.S. Here is a link to a study done in 2017 on the levels of Vitamin D found in pork from pigs exposed to sunlight vs. pigs kept in confinement. But note: they only exposed the pigs to sunlight ONE HOUR a day for two weeks when they were young, and then again just before slaughter. Imagine the difference if the pigs lived their entire lives outside, like ours?!


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