How To Get Enough Vitamin D on a Plant-Based Diet

You as a vegan probably are worried about daily intake of vitamin D. One study shows that the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in the USA was 41.6 percent. This data is so bad that The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition named it a “pandemic”. But don’t worry, because everything you need to know about this vitamin to make sure you are getting enough of it on a plant-based diet is here.

What is Vitamin D?

Strong and healthy bones is the best synonym. It helps for absorption of calcium in the gut so the calcium can make it into the bloodstream. Vitamin D also protects bones by blocking parathyroid hormone. This hormone causes calcium from the bones to leach into the blood when levels are low. If you aren’t getting this vitamin when you consume calcium rich foods the calcium is going to go to waste.

This vitamin, aside from bone health has other important roles in our bodies such as:

  • Immune function;
  • Regulating cell growth;
  • Reducing inflammation; and
  • Conveying signals between the brain and every part of the body

Deficiency may be linked to certain types of cancers. Also, higher blood levels of this vitamin are linked to lower rates of heart attack, stroke, arthritis, and depression.

How to Get Enough Vitamin D on plant-based diet?

Daily recommendation for a healthy adults is about 600 IU of vitamin D. It`s proven that we don’t need to get it through food because our bodies make it when UV rays from sunlight hit the skin and trigger synthesis. Only takes about 20 minutes of exposure to the sun daily to get enough from it. But, today, many Westerners spend most of their time indoors, hence why vitamin D deficiency is becoming such a concern.

Also, most people don’t get enough sunshine to make this vitamin, especially in winter when you are probably wearing lots of clothes so the sunlight is only hitting your face. The estimate that you need 20 minutes of sunlight daily to meet vitamin D requirements is set assuming that your arms and legs will be exposed. With just your face exposed, you’d have to be outside in the sun much longer.

Our bodies aren`t designed to make our own vitamin D by food. In the nature there are only few foods which naturally contain it. The only vegan foods that contain it are some mushrooms!

Very important is to know that this vitamin cannot be gotten from sunlight through a window! So, you have to be out in the sunlight in bare skin.

In the summer and in sunny climates, this vitamin isn’t an issue for vegans. But what about in winter? One option is to take a supplement, second option is to consume foods fortified with it, and third to eat a lot of wild-grown mushrooms.

Today we will not talk about vitamin D supplements or for foods fortified with vitamin D. We will talk about the natural source of vitamin D.

As we say before mushrooms are the only one natural source for this vitamin, but most mushrooms only contain a negligible amount of vitamin D. So, let’s find which mushroom type is the richest source of it.

Vitamin D

So, the conclusion is: Eat more Mitake, Morel and Chanterelle mushrooms.