Vitamin D is one of the most important vitamins for our overall health. It helps to regulate the amount of calcium in the body and to keep bones, teeth, and muscles healthy.
If you follow a vegan diet, getting the right amount of vitamin D every day can be a challenge because most Vitamin D-rich foods, such as salmon and shellfish, are animal-based.
If you’re wondering where vegans get their dose of vitamin D from, look no further: here we have the five best vitamin D-packed vegan foods, plus a bonus alternative in case you don’t like any of these options!
Mushrooms are one of the best vegan vitamin D sources: they’re one of the few plant-based sources of vitamin D, and research has suggested that mushrooms can provide as much vitamin D as any other animal-based food or supplement.
The Shiitake, Portobello, Morel, Maitake, and Button variety are known to be some of the best kinds of mushrooms that provide you with a high amount of vitamin D.
To maximize the intake of vitamin D, you can place them in direct sunlight, and according to researchers it only takes them a few seconds in the sun to significantly boost their vitamin D content.
There are a lot of vegan meal recipes with mushrooms as the main ingredient, so if you like how they taste, there is a lot that can be done in terms of playing with the meal recipes.
Not only tofu recipes taste heavenly, but tofu is also a healthy source of vegan protein, iron, and vitamin D along with a good number of other vitamins and minerals.
Much like mushrooms, tofu’s best quality is its versatility. You can use it in a variety of different dishes and on different occasions; from breakfast to dinner and from savoury to sweet, there is so much that can be done!
Also, if you’re ever feeling adventurous enough, you could even try to make tofu from scratch at home! Sure the process takes a bit of time and a bit of practice, but the results are so worth it!
3. Fortified orange juice
Fortified drinks, in particular fortified orange juice, are among the best vitamin D vegan sources. For someone who doesn’t know what fortified foods are, they are regular food items that are boosted by adding nutrients to them, such as adding vitamins and minerals to juices, and Vitamin D is one of the very common nutrients often added to orange juice.
Drinking fortified orange juice can help you monitor and maintain a proper intake of vitamin D; Also, 1 cup of orange juice may provide up to 100 IU (2.5 mcg) of vitamin D!.
4. Fortified plant-based milk
Fortified plant-based kinds of milk, such as coconut, almond, and soy – are part of the vegan vitamin-D rich foods group and can contain high levels of the vitamin, depending on the quality of the product itself.
If you’re thinking of upping your vitamin D intake with plant-based milk, remember to always check the label of the product to make sure your milk of choice contains enough vitamin D to make an impact on your diet.
We already talked about the fact that most food sources of vitamin D are animal-based, and we already know that mushrooms are not for everybody. So if you don’t like any of the alternatives mentioned above, you can always go for a vegan vitamin D supplement.
Supplements can act as a reliable and consistent source of Vitamin D, but unfortunately, the majority of the vitamin content in such supplements is isolated from lanolin, which is the fat from lamb’s wool and is definitely not vegan.
Vegan vitamin D supplements are typically harvested from yeast or mushrooms, and more recently, there are now also being developed from lichens.
As a precaution, you should always check the label and only choose vitamin D supplements that are clearly labelled vegan, or that are certified to contain only vegan ingredients.
Sunshine is obviously not a vegan food option, but it’s one of the best ways to get some vitamin D without having to resort to animal-based food. Also, if you don’t particularly enjoy the vegan foods with vitamin D that we talked about here earlier on, this is your best option!
And while soaking in sunlight has a lot of benefits, finding the right balance and optimum time of sun exposure is key: 30 minutes in the sun, depending on how pale your skin is and how intense is the sunlight (the sunlight intensity differs during summers and winters), can be enough to synthesize the inactive form of vitamin D and convert it into the active form.
If you have darker skin you might need to spend more time in the sun: However, be careful not to get sunburned and remember to always apply sunscreen!
Vitamin D is an essential vitamin that most people don’t get enough of. As a general recommendation, it is recommended that children get at least 400 IU of vitamin D daily, while adults should aim for 600 IU per day.
Low vitamin D levels are a common problem, and deficiency symptoms might include fatigue, muscle pain, and weak bones.
Keep in mind that vitamin D, being fat-soluble, can build up in your cells if taken excessively over a long period of time. This condition, known as a vitamin D overdose is a big problem in itself and can cause a lot of unpleasant effects like muscle and nerve problems and kidney stones.
As a vegan, you can get your vitamin D dose in three different ways, namely, from food, sunshine, and through supplements.
Mushrooms, tofu, and fortified drinks (like milk and orange juice) are your best options if you’re looking for something food-related.
However, if you don’t like any of these options, you can always try to spend more time in the sun (with precautions!) or go for vegan vitamin D supplements!