Vitamin D for Vegans

Taking vitamin D is becoming more popular, not only because of its health effects, but also due to common deficiencies, which happens also among non-vegans.



It's no secret that we get the most vitamin D from sunshine and fish. For example, a portion of salmon is about 540IU / 100g, mackerel is 152IU / 100g, herring is 480IU / 100g. However, to get a recommended daily dose of 600IU vitamin D. You would need to eat a lot of fish, e.g. 115g salmon or 400g mackerel every day! Vitamin D can also be found in eggs and dairy products, but its content is not too high, so we would have to eat about 15 eggs, a kilogram of cheese or drink over ten of litres of milk to ensure a daily dose of vitamin D. That's the why even meat eaters are struggling with the sufficient amount of vitamin D


WHY DO WE NEED VITAMIN D ?

We all know that vitamin D3 is essential for bone health. However, it has wider properties and participates in many processes in the body, especially with immune system reactions. Thanks to many studies on the role of vitamin D, we know that its deficiency affects: Autoimmune diseases - Lack of vitamin D can cause asthma, allergies, rheumatoid arthritis, mucositis, multiple sclerosis. Vitamin D plays an important role in the functioning of our immune barrier. Calcitriol - the active form of vitamin D - reduces inflammation and protects cells. It slow downs the production of pro-inflammatory factors (cytokines) and helps to produce antibacterial peptides.

Infections - With a lower level of vitamin D our ability to defend against bacteria and viruses is decreased Pregnancy - is a very important element of the child's proper development in the prenatal period, which is why supplementation is recommended. Skin problems - With a healthy intake of vitamin D, the skin dries less, regenerates better and is generally in better condition. In addition, vitamin D normalises the processes occurring in the skin, reduces allergic reactions and the damage caused by oxidative stress. That is why the proper level of vitamin D in the blood is so important in patients with eczema. In addition, vitamin D protects against harmful environmental factors, especially against solar radiation, and against its negative effects, such as photodamage of the skin or skin cancer. Cognitive impairment - deficiency increases the risk of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease.

Menstrual cramps - Ladies if you are suffering from painful menstrual cramps try supplementation of vitamin D


How much of vitamin D do we need ?

Here’s the recommended daily intake of vitamin D based on age:

  • Babies (0–12 months): 400 IU

  • Children (1–13): 600 IU

  • Teenagers: 600 IU

  • Adults 70 and under: 600 IU

  • Adults over 70: 800 IU.

Vitamin D is fat soluble and accumulates in our body fat, therefore there is a risk of overdose. Vitamin D becomes toxic when we exceed 40,000 IE per day.


What can I do to increase absorption of vitamin D?

Vitamin A is necessary for the action of vitamin D receptors in cells. In practice, this means that in the absence of vitamin A, even an adequate level of vitamin D cannot be used. Don't forget then about your carrots, broccoli, mango or papaya.

Magnesium is needed in the body to activate vitamin D. Only with assistance of magnesium, vitamin D can be converted into its active form. Therefore, if you lack magnesium, despite taking even high doses of vitamin D, you may still be deficient.

Remember also that the consumption of coffee or alcohol can decrease your absorption of vitamin D.


Can I get vitamin D from sun ?

Vitamin D is unique compared to other vitamins. Even though you can get it from various food sources, your body can also make it. When you expose your skin to sunlight, your body has the ability to convert cholesterol into vitamin D, which also acts as a hormone.

The body makes vitamin D when skin is directly exposed to the sun. Skin exposed to sunshine indoors through a window will not produce vitamin D. Cloudy days, shade, and having dark-colored skin also cut down on the amount of vitamin D the skin makes.

Sunshine is vegan! In a sunny countries try to go for at least 20 minutes walk outdoor, but if you live in a country with the seasons please consider supplementation (this applies not only to vegans).



What vegan products contain vitamin D?

Mushrooms - At least some! As commercial mushrooms are grown indoors they often have next to no vitamin D present. You need mushrooms which are exposed to UV rays. Look for a label that says “Mushrooms enriched with vitamin D” or “UV treated mushrooms”; a controlled light treatment was used to increase vitamin D level. Chanterelle and morels mushrooms (as they are grown in a wild) have a higher levels of vitamin D.

Fortified plant based milk

Almost all plant-based milk products, such as almond, soy, oatmeal, and cashew, can be fortified with necessary vitamins and minerals. Generally,a cup of plant-based milk should provide around 30 percent of adults recommended daily intake of vitamin D

Fortified orange juice

Major brands sell orange juice with about 350 milligrams (mg) of calcium and 100 international units of vitamin D added to each 230ml serving.

Vitamin D2 and vitamin D3 are equally available in orange juice and capsules.

Fortified cereals

Many breakfast cereals and brands of oatmeal are fortified with vitamin D. Cereals fortified with vitamin D will usually list the vitamin in the nutritional information.

Some popular brands as Quaker's Oats, Kellogg's Special K and Multi Grain Cheerios are fortified with vitamin D. Enjoy a bowl of cereal with fortified soya milk and a glass of orange juice to get half of your recommended allowance of vitamin D all before lunch time.




Do I need to take a supplements of vitamin D?

Vitamin D supplements are another option to boost your intake if you eat a vegan diet. Not all vitamin D supplements are vegan-friendly, so be sure to research a brand before buying a supplement. If you don’t get adequate sun exposure.


To enhance absorption, it’s recommended that you take vitamin D supplements with a meal. Foods that are high in fats, like avocados, nuts, and seeds, are particularly helpful with increasing the absorption of vitamin D into your bloodstream.


Summary

If you eat a vegan diet, getting enough vitamin D can be challenging, but there are ways to increase your intake that don’t involve animal sources.

Cereals and milk replacements fortified with vitamin D are two of the best sources of dietary vitamin D for vegans. Taking a daily vitamin D supplement can also help you boost your levels.

Exposing your skin to sunlight can also increase your body’s natural vitamin D production. For most people, 20 minutes walk three times a week is sufficient.





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