The Best Plant Sources
The best plant sources include vitamin D-fortified plant-based milks, vegetable margarines and breakfast cereals and vitamin D mushrooms .
Just like us mushrooms make vitamin D when exposed to sunlight. Most mushrooms you buy dont have any vitamin D because theyre grown in the dark but some suppliers have started exposing their mushrooms to UV light to produce vitamin D mushrooms. Analysis shows that vitamin D mushrooms from one supermarket contained 4.07 to 9.37 micrograms of vitamin D per 100 grams. Another supermarket said that a 100 gram serving of their mushrooms contains at least 10 micrograms of vitamin D. 100 grams is equal to approximately: 14 button mushrooms, 4-5 chestnut mushrooms or 1-2 Portobello mushrooms.
Between 1940 and 2013, margarine in the UK had to be fortified and most still is, but on a voluntary basis as are other foods such as breakfast cereals and some plant-based milk alternatives.
Vitamin D is found in fatty fish, liver and egg yolks but only if the chickens have been fed vitamin D. However, all these foods are non-vegan and contain cholesterol, saturated fat and other undesirable substances.
Recommended Dose Of Vitamin D
According to the National Institutes of Health, most adults should aim for a vitamin D daily dose of at least 600 IUs. However, experts believe this recommendation is too low and suggest that higher doses can lead to better health outcomes.
In fact, research shows that taking 2,000 IUs of vitamin D3 daily can help achieve better a vitamin D status. That said, I recommend finding a vitamin D supplement that contains 2,000 IUs of vitamin D3 in cholecalciferol, its most bioavailable form.
Lastly, you might be wondering how much vitamin D is too much. I dont suggest exceeding 4,000 IUs per daythe tolerable upper limit for adultswithout first consulting your doctor.
Can Vegans Get Enough Vitamin D3 From A Plant
According to professionals, it is usually impossible to get enough Vitamin D3 from a plant-based vegan diet. However, if you opt for proper food choices, the chances of developing Vitamin D3 deficiency may highly reduce.
Therefore, you must include lots of mushrooms, fortified foods, and supplements to ensure theres no lack of regular high-quality Vitamin D3 sources. Also, dont forget to go ahead and let your skin absorb the sunlight to obtain Vitamin D3 from it naturally.
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Is Vitamin D A Special Concern For Vegans
It is difficult to plan a vegan diet, or any type of vegetarian diet, that meets the recommendations for vitamin D. For example, you’d need to drink 4 or more cups of vitamin D-fortified plant milks or of fortified dairy milk to meet vitamin D recommendations. Any person, whether vegan or not, who does not include good sources of vitamin Din his or her diet or take vitamin D supplements canbe at risk for not getting adequate vitamin D, especiallyif sunlight exposure is limited. Some studies have foundthat vegans had lower vitamin D intakes11 and lower blood levels of vitamin D12 than did lacto-ovovegetarians or meat-eaters. This may be becausecow’s milk could be a more commonpart of the daily menu for non-vegans than other vitamin D-fortifiedfoods are for vegans.
Healthy Eating As A Vegan
You can get the nutrients you need from eating a varied and balanced vegan diet including fortified foods and supplements.
For a healthy vegan diet:
- eat at least 5 portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day
- base meals on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates
- have some fortified dairy alternatives, such as soya drinks and yoghurts
- eat some beans, pulses and other proteins
- eat nuts and seeds rich in omega-3 fatty acids every day
- choose unsaturated oils and spreads, and eat in small amounts
- have fortified foods or supplements containing nutrients that are more difficult to get through a vegan diet, including vitamin D, vitamin B12, iodine, selenium, calcium and iron
- drink plenty of fluids
If you choose to include foods and drinks that are high in fat, salt or sugar, have them less often and in small amounts.
See The Eatwell Guide for more information about a healthy diet.
The Eatwell Guide applies to vegetarians, vegans, people of all ethnic origins and those who are a healthy weight for their height, as well as those who are overweight.
The only group The Eatwell Guide is not suitable for is children under the age of 2, as they have different needs.
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Plant Based Food Sources Of Vitamin D:
Vitamin D exists in two forms: vitamin D2 and D3. Vitamin D2 is found in plant sources, while D3 can be produced from sun exposure or found in animal-based foods.
Food sources of vitamin D are limited, and predominantly found in animal products such oily fish, shellfish and dairy products.
While it is challenging for many people to get adequate vitamin D from food sources alone, it is increasingly difficult for people following a vegan diet due to limited vegan sources of dietary vitamin D.
Some plant-based foods do contain vitamin D naturally or through food fortification .
Vitamin D Vegan Foods Include:
- Fortified cereals, such as Special K
- Mushrooms that have been exposed to ultraviolet light
While essential nutrients generally need to be obtained through diet, vitamin D is unique as it can also be obtained when the skin is exposed to sunlight .
Vitamin D And Osteoporosis
Calcium is probably the nutrient most people think of first when considering what we need to achieve and maintain healthy bones. But vitamin D is just as important for keeping bones strong and preventing the bone disease osteoporosis. Vitamin D helps you absorb calcium from food. Getting enough of both nutrients is an important part of ensuring your bones are healthy and strong.
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Vegan Vitamin D Concerns
Its probably a no-brainer that the first thing people get concerned about when they take on the vegan lifestyle is how they will obtain certain vitamins. Previously, people who were not vegan might have found that it was easy enough to receive the required vitamins into their body through their daily food intake. However, because vegan eating habits call for no animal products or by-products whatsoever, the inclusion of some vitamins can be more difficult. However, that isnt to say it is impossible!
If youre new the vegan world or looking into becoming vegan, it is important to understand that you can find vitamin D through other sources. Its also important to understand which of the following would be the best source of vitamin D for a person following a vegan diet before you embark on the journey. Knowing where to get vitamin D in a vegan diet is crucial to ensuring that your body stays in tip-top shape while also staying true to your vegan desires.
There are plenty of sources in which you can get your vitamin D that doesnt revolve around animals. Knowing what vegan foods have vitamin D, how to get vitamin D as a vegan, and what supplements work best for your lifestyle will set you up for major success in the long run!
Fortified Vegan Foods High In Vitamin D
Extra firm tofu fortified
Macronutrients: Fat 4.9g, Carbohydrates 1.8g, Protein 10.2gVitamins: Vitamin D 2.5mcg 13% DV, Vitamin B12 1.5mcg 60% DVMinerals: Calcium 246mg 19% DV- Iron 1.6mg 9% DV, Phosphorus 129mg 10% DV
Health benefits and uses for firm tofu
- Firm tofu is one of the best nutrient-rich plant-based foods available on a vegan diet. It is typically fortified with a wide range of nutrients with calcium, vitamin B12, and vitamin D being the maint nutrients added.
- A 100 gram serving of fortified firm tofu provides 13% of your daily vitamin D needs helping you create optimal nutritional balance while on a vegan diet, making tofu one of the best vegan vitamin d sources.
- Tofu contains a large amount of isoflavones, which are a beneficial plant compound that has been shown to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease.
- Its also high in iron, magnesium, and protein which are all essential nutrients needed on a vegan diet.
- Tofu is also one of the most versatile foods so it has an extensive range of using it in the kitchen. From an egg replacement in scrambled tofu through to seasoned crispy tofu strips to have with vegetable stir-fried rice or vegan salad. Tofu is one of the most magnificent foods to help boost a wide range of essential nutrients needed when trying to maintain longterm health.
Soy Milk fortified
Health benefits and uses for soy milk
Nut milk- fortified
Rice milk unsweetened fortified
Nutrition per 1 cup cooked:
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Vitamin D Surprising Facts
Here are a few things you might not have known about Vitamin D, until now:
- You are more likely to get less of it if you live in a city, which is built up and where pollution levels are higher, or if you work in an office or on night shifts.21
- In the UK, one in five people have low Vitamin D levels.22
- Most people do not realise they have a Vitamin D deficiency.23
- During the autumn and winter, you need to get vitamin D from your diet because the sun is not strong enough for our bodies to make it.24
- The ultraviolet B that is in sunlight and enables our body to generate Vitamin D does not penetrate glass, so you need to go outside to get your UV-Vitamin D hit.25
Improving Absorption Of Vitamin D
While ensuring adequate intake of vitamins is essential, it’s equal as important to maximize the body’s ability to absorb those vitamins. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, meaning it will be absorbed into the body the same way dietary fats are.
Research shows that vitamin D supplements are best absorbed when taken with the largest meal of the day 5. Other research has demonstrated that a meal higher in fat increases vitamin D absorption compared to a low fat meal 6.
These two studies suggest that consuming a source of fat with a vitamin D supplement is likely the best option to improve absorption. This means it’s likely best to take vitamin D supplements with a meal or snack that contains fat the largest meal of the day may be the best choice.
Absorption of essential fat-soluble nutrients is one of the many reasons why it’s important to include some healthy, plant-based fats into the diet!
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Do I Need A Supplement
Yes, depending on your lifestyle either over the winter months only or throughout the year. Please see the explanation above. When choosing a supplement, 10 micrograms per day is enough and you shouldnt go above 25 micrograms .
Overall, 60-70 per cent of the UK population is thought to have low vitamin D levels. Some studies suggest vegans may consume less vitamin D than meat, egg and fish-eaters but this doesnt seem to make much difference when such a large proportion of the population is deficient, regardless of what they eat. Vitamin D deficiency, it seems, has far more to do with lack of sunshine than diet. The fact is we all need supplements if we dont get enough sunshine.muscle weakness, bone tenderness or pain in the spine, shoulder, ribs or pelvis vitamin D deficiency in children can lead to rickets skeletal deformities, anaemia and susceptibility to respiratory infections.
A Final Few Words About Vegan Vitamin D
Vitamin D is something we can all be lacking in, not just vegans, particularly during the winter months when the sun doesnt shine as much and our bodies arent making valuable Vitamin D from its UV rays.
But all is not lost, because there are several vegan Vitamin D food sources out there, as well as vegan supplements, that can be incorporated into your diet to make sure youre getting enough of this vitamin in your system all-year-round.
Vitamin D isnt the only nutrient vegans can be lacking in. Due to the fact that the vegan diet doesnt contain any animal-derived dairy products, its not uncommon for calcium levels among people who follow a vegan diet to be low. Fortunately, as with Vitamin D, there are vegan-approved calcium alternatives out there. This article explores what they are, 6 of the best vegan calcium sources.
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Vegan Vitamin D Brands
Unfortunately, most vitamin D supplements are not vegan. Until recently, nearly every brand was produced from lanolin, a non-vegan byproduct of the wool industry. When exposed to ultraviolet light, lanolins oils transform into a type of vitamin D called cholecalciferol. This molecule is better known as vitamin D3. Vegans were stuck taking an expensive and much less potent supplement containing ergocalciferol, commonly called Vitamin D2.
Sometime around 2010, supplement companies started making vegan vitamin D3 from a type of algae called lichen. There are now several vegan vitamin D3 brands on the market:
Of the above products, Pure & Essentials Vegan Vitamin D3 delivers the best bang for the buck. For most people, one tablet daily should provide a sufficient dose. The 365 tablets per bottle give you a years supply at a very reasonable price.
Vitamin D2 Vs Vitamin D3
There are currently two known types of vitamin D. Vitamin D2 can be obtained naturally in small amounts via certain types of mushrooms, and is the most common type of vitamin D used to fortify vegan foods. However, vitamin D3 is the kind our body synthesizes through exposure to sunlight. This is also the form of vitamin D found in animal foods like milk, oily fish, eggs, cheese, beef liver, and others.
Although both forms carry out the same functions, studies have shown that vitamin D3 is the more active form of vitamin D, and the preferred choice for supplementation. For this reason, researchers have developed a vegan form of cholecalciferol derived from lichen! This is the type of vitamin D3 used in many vegan supplements today.
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Which Vegan Vitamin D Supplement Should I Take
As mentioned earlier, vitamin D3 is the preferred choice for supplementation. So, how can we find an effective vegan version? What’s important to look for in vegan vitamin D3 supplements is that they’re free from animal products like gelatin, they’re lichen-derived, and made with some sort of plant-based oil to enhance their absorption. You’ll find these types of supplements in capsule or spray form below!
Number Of Servings And Price
The number of servings and price often go hand in hand a supplement with more servings is generally more expensive, but that isnt always the case.
If you want to buy an affordable supplement, look at the price per serving.
Naturelos vitamin D costs $0.11 per serving, while Ora Organics vitamin D costs $0.57 per serving, which makes the latter significantly more expensive.
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What Is Vitamin D And Why Is It Important
To put it in simple words, Vitamin D is a group of fat-soluble secosteroids that is solely responsible for increased intestinal absorption of calcium, magnesium, phosphate, and many other biological effects. Whenever a person is frequently exposed to the suns Ultra-Violet rays, a chemical present in the human skin reacts to the sunlight by producing Vitamin D, which is then carried away to the liver and the kidneys to activate it for the body.
As we are commonly aware that Vitamin D is usually synthesized in sufficient amounts by most mammals, it plays a very significant role in increased metabolism and better calcium homeostasis. Vitamin D has a vast array of health benefits, including reduced risks of cancer, prevention from cognitive impairment, reduced cardiovascular diseases, etc.
Another salient job of Vitamin D is to maintain the skeletal calcium balance, thereby promoting intestinal calcium and bone remodeling as a stimulator of bone resorption. Interestingly, Vitamin D receptor expression usually decreases with age and time and also is directly related to mass, muscle strength, and function.
Now that we have learned about Vitamin D in a bit of detail lets discuss its impact on the human body.
Too Much Of A Good Thing Can Be Bad
Everything in moderationthats a rule of thumb which is easy to live by and apply to so many different situations. Vitamin D is one of those situations. While not having enough vitamin D can be an issue, having too much vitamin D can also be problematic. Overexposure to vitamin D can cause intoxication. Be careful when trying to add vitamin D to your vegan diet as you do not want to overcompensate for a potential lack of vitamin D and cause more harm than good. With that said I hope you have enjoyed my guide to vegan foods with vitamin d.
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Ideal Vitamin D Levels
Traditionally, vitamin D recommendations have been based on how much was required to prevent the most obvious diseases of vitamin D deficiency, rickets, and osteomalacia. Some research suggests that higher vitamin D levels might help prevent fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, upper respiratory tract infections, premenstrual syndrome, polycystic ovary disease, psoriasis, muscle weakness, lower back pain, diabetes, high blood pressure, and cancer , and asthma . Vitamin D supplementation might also improve mood . Because of these findings, some researchers have suggested that ideal vitamin D levels in the blood are between 80 to 100 nmol/l .
In 2011, the Institute of Medicine released a report in which they reviewed the scientific literature. They conclude that a serum vitamin D level of < 30 nmol/l puts adults at risk for deficiency with regard to bone health, but that Practically all persons are sufficient at serum 25D levels of at least 50 nmol/L , and that optimal vitamin D levels are 50 to 125 nmol/l . They also increased the RDA for vitamin D from 400 to 600 IU .
In a separate paper, members of the IOM committee said :
For outcomes beyond bone health, however, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and autoimmune disorders, the evidence was found to be inconsistent and inconclusive as to causality.