30 Sep 2014

Vegan Sources of Vitamin D

Many years ago, when I was only a vegetarian, I had a blood test. I found out that my vitamin levels were absolutely perfect (which surprised my non-vegetarian GP, it's a shame how ignorant some of them can be about our lifestyle) - apart from my Vitamin D levels. Now, this was likely because of how much time I spent indoors. As many of us know, spending a reasonable amount of time in the sun each day is the best way to keep your Vitamin D levels up. Other factors in my life, however, affect how much time I can spend in the sun. As a vegetarian, I could've eaten instead a lot of eggs to keep my Vitamin D levels up - but what can vegans do?

Mushrooms


Mushrooms are a fantastic plant-based source of Vitamin D. When left in the sun, mushrooms can absorb Vitamin D at rates greater even greater than our own bodies! Unfortunately, however, many store-bought mushrooms are grown indoors and hence won't contain much Vitamin D at all. There are three solutions to this problem. Firstly, you can buy mushrooms especially grown to contain Vitamin D - they are now readily available at many major supermarkets. If, however, you can't find these Vitamin D infused mushrooms - there is a second option. Just leave your store-bought mushrooms out in the sun for twenty minutes or so before you eat them - and they'll have absorbed plenty of it! The third fantastic way to obtain Vitamin D (and my personal favourite) is to grow your own. You can't go wrong with that!


Mushrooms are a vegan's best friend!
Supplements

Many people are opposed to taking supplements, but many all-natural, 100% plant-based Vitamin D supplements are available - and they get the job done. This option is especially useful for people who have issues with Vitamin D absorption or suffer from a deficiency. I personally take a Deva Multivitamin (with Vitamin D) to make sure I never fall back into a deficient state.


Fortified Foods


Whenever I have my toast in the mornings, I love to spread some Nuttelex all over. Nuttelex is a decent source of Vitamin D, as it has been fortified with the vitamin. This is the case with many foods - especially mock meats and non-dairy milks. 


Sunlight

Exposure to sunlight can be, for some people, the easiest - and of course, cheapest - way to obtain enough Vitamin D. 20 minutes a day of sunlight exposure in the midday sun is enough for some people - although, for those who live in colder climates, this can be difficult. This is also the case for the majority of people during the winter. If you want to keep your Vitamin D levels up during this time (and you should want to!) then Vitamin D infused mushrooms, fortified foods or supplements are your best bet. 

Many hundreds of thousands of people in the world are Vitamin D deficient - and many of them aren't vegan or vegetarian. This is unfortunate, as Vitamin D is absolutely vital for bone health. It aids calcium absorption greatly, which is why it is so important. If you care about your health, keep those levels up!



[Image Courtesy of Michelle Meiklejohn @ FreeDigitalPhotos.net]