In this day and age, when we are more likely to be found indoors at a desk than outside in the sunshine tilling the fields, vitamin D deficiency is becoming ubiquitous in both vegans and nonvegans alike. Luckily, it is possible to get enough of this very important vitamin! Read on to find out how.
Vitamin D controls our ability to absorb calcium and regulate cell growth. Recent studies show that sufficient vitamin D intake may help to prevent cancer, while a deficiency is linked not just to cancer, but also Vitamin D deficiency symptoms include multiple sclerosis, muscle weakness, and depression.
You may wonder what the difference is between vitamins D2 and D3: vitamin D2 is derived from plant sources, while vitamin D3 can be derived either from lanolin (from sheep’s wool, i.e., not vegan) or lichen (from algae, i.e., vegan). Some fortified products will not specify the derivation of the vitamin D, but we encourage vegans not to stress too much about trace amounts of animal products.
Researchers have reported that mushrooms can provide as much vitamin D as a supplement. Portobello, maitake, morel, button, and shiitake mushrooms are all high in vitamin D. And here’s a tip—you can set them out in the sun to boost their vitamin D content! Even 15 or 20 seconds can make a big difference.
2. Fortified Soy Milk and Almond Milk
Soy and almond milk are often fortified with vegan vitamin D2, but check the label to make sure. This vegan took the time to ask her local grocery store to stock vegan products – Look how excited she is!
It takes five to 30 minutes of sun twice per week for our bodies to make enough vitamin D, but do be careful not to get sunburned. Finding the right balance of sun exposure is key.
4. Plant-Derived Supplements (Oral Spray or Capsules)
Taking a supplement is a sure way to get all the vitamin D your body needs, especially if you can’t get enough sunlight because of your locale or schedule. We like the quick absorption and vanilla flavor of the spray.
Again, check the label to make sure your tofu is fortified with vitamin D—it should provide about 20 percent of your recommended daily allowance, depending on the brand.