For almost all of human history, humans got their Vitamin D from sun exposure. It’s actually quite hard to get enough through our foods, even in the most common fortified foods, such as cow’s milk, which takes about 1 ½ quarts to provide the Vitamin D RDA. (The same is true for most brands of fortified milks made from almonds, hempseed, rice, and soy.)
Not getting enough vitamin D might do more than weaken your bones, too. Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to increased risk for multiple sclerosis, muscle weakness, cancer, and depression. While animal foods do contain natural levels of Vitamin D3 (mainly fish), plant-based sources also have Vitamin D in them as well. Vegan Vitamin D3 is now available, which is more absorbable than Vitamin D2 in the blood (which is the form found in most non-dairy milks and fortified foods). Vitamin D3 can help improve so may things about your health.
Here are some ways to make sure you get enough and more information on how to support Vitamin D absorption and function in the body.
Vitamin D is a necessary nutrient for bone health, digestive health, and overall metabolic health. Our best way to get enough is from sunlight, with just 15 minutes per day providing great benefits. Since it’s absorbed through our skin and is a fat soluble vitamin, it’s important that we eat healthy fats and that we get enough time outside whenever possible. Vitamin D is present in very few foods though it is added to some fortified foods, and available as a dietary supplement. Supporting bone, brain and digestive health, this is one vitamin to make sure you get enough of.
Vitamin D is synthesized in the liver and promotes a healthy mood, gut function, calcium absorption in the gut and adequate serum mineralization of bone. It is also needed for bone growth and for the prevention of bone disease. Without sufficient levels, rickets can occur in children and osteomalacia in adults, along with osteoporosis and depression. Colon health can even be affected by low Vitamin D levels due to the way Vitamin D aids in serotonin and other mood neurochemicals that affect gut function.
RECOMMENDED DAILY INTAKE
Vitamin D, known as ‘The Sunshine Vitamin’, is best obtained by achieving at least 15 minutes of sunlight daily. However, since that can be difficult during the winter months, it’s important to either eat Vitamin D-rich foods daily, or take a supplement of at least 400 I.U. daily. Many people who suffer from depression or live in dark, cold climates may need up to 10,000 I.U. daily. (Choose a vegan brand since many contain sheep’s skin known as lanolin.)
- Mushrooms (all types)
- Fortified vegan cereals (check labels)
- Fortified vegan milks (check labels)
- Vegan Meal Replacement Products With Added Vitamin D (check labels)
As you can see, it’s not very easy to obtain Vitamin D from foods alone, and isn’t the best way to meet your overall needs. However, a cup of mushrooms and two cups of fortified non-dairy milk and yogurt a day will easily help you get enough through your diet, though supplementation is recommended for the best benefits. You can also choose to take a plant-based multivitamin that includes 100 percent of your daily Vitamin D needs in but will need to check labels. Always choose vegan Vitamin D3, which is the easiest form for your body to absorb.
RECIPES WITH VITAMIN D
- Meeting Vitamin D Needs on a Plant-Based Diet
- Vitamin D Decoded + Vegan Supplement Options
- Vitamin D Can Save Your Life! Here’s How to Get it in a Plant-Based Diet
- Vitamin D (Not Calcium!) May be the Key to Bone Health
- 5 Ways to Optimize Bone Health
- Important Nutrients Needed for Healthy Digestion
- Fat Soluble Vitamins: Do They Stand Between Vegans and Good Health?
- How to Build Strong Bones With Plant Foods
- Plant-based Nutrition 101: Protein
- Plant-based Nutrition 101: Healthy Fats
- Plant-based Nutrition 101: Complex Carbs/Fiber
- Plant-based Nutrition 101: Vitamin A
- Plant-based Nutrition 101: B Vitamins
- Plant-based Nutrition 101: Vitamin C
- Plant-Based Nutrition 101: Vitamin E
- Plant-based Nutrition 101: Vitamin K
- Plant-based Nutrition 101: Calcium
- Plant-based Nutrition 101: Magnesium
- Plant-based Nutrition 101: Iron
- Plant-based Nutrition 101: Zinc
- Plant-based Nutrition 101: Vitamin D (CURRENT PAGE)