Vitamin D is one of the 9 essential nutrients needed to master a plant-based diet and plays a vital role in the regulation of calcium and phosphorus throughout your body. While trying to transition or incorporate more vegan foods into your diet its important to know what the best vegan vitamin d sources are for you to obtain optimal nutritional balance without struggling.
What are the benefits of vitamin D?
- Vitamin D has been shown to help boost immune system strength
- Support healthy bone development
- Aids in the prevention of inflammation
- Helps to achieve optimal brain health
- Research has shown vitamin D may help to reduce the risk of obesity
- Can help to reduce the risk of heart disease
- Helps to improve your mood and lower risk of depression
- Helps to utilize and absorb calcium more efficiently
The recommended daily amount of vitamin D is between 400-800 IU per day but research has shown that intake up to 4000iu per day is still safe and may be a requirement especially if you live in colder climates.
The range of plant based foods high in vitamin D is relatively small so it is crucial for vegans and vegetarians to know which foods are the best to help them achieve their daily dose of the sunshine vitamin.
Best Vegan Vitamin D Sources
Health benefits and uses for mushrooms
- Mushrooms are more than just a fantastic food to add to your favorite stir fry dishes. They are loaded with essential nutrients and are the best vegan vitamin D sources on a plant-based diet. A single cup of mushrooms can provide between 10- to 17% up of your recommended daily vitamin D needs making it one of the best plant sources to boost your vitamin d intake.
- Mushrooms are also a fantastic source of iron for vegans and vegetarians. They provide up to 45% of your daily needs with each cup, helping to boost your immune system, prevent iron deficiency anemia and support healthy hemoglobin formation.
- Morel mushrooms are also high in manganese which is necessary for strong bones and inflammation reduction, as well as being high in copper which is good for the healthy formation of red blood cells.
- Some great ways to incorporate mushrooms into your diet to boost your vitamin d2 intake are through a delicious vegan mushroom risotto or tasty sauteed garlic mushroom dish.
Below are the top 3 mushroom recommendations to increase your vitamin d intake on a vegan or vegetarian diet
1. Cremini mushrooms – exposed to sunlight or Uv light
Nutrition per 1 cup:
Macronutrients: Fat 0.1g, Carbohydrates 3.7g, Protein 2.2g
Vitamins: Vitamin D 27.8mcg – 139% DV, Vitamin B13 0.1mcg – 4% DV
Minerals: Zinc 1mg – 9% DV, Potassium 389.8mg – 8% DV, Iron 0.3mg – 2% DV
Health benefits and uses for cremini mushrooms
Cremini mushrooms exposed to sunlight are a magnificent natural plant based source of vitamin D. Just 1 cup provides over 100% of your recommended vitamin D intake.
2. Maitake mushrooms
Nutrition per 1 cup:
Macronutrients: Fat 0.1g, Carbohydrates 4.9g, Protein 1.4g
Vitamins: Vitamin D 19.7mcg – 98% DV, Vitamin B9 (folate) 14.7mcg – 4% DV
Minerals: Potassium 142.8mg – 3% DV, Zinc 0.5mg – 5% DV, Magnesium 7mg – 2% DV
3. Morel mushrooms
Nutrition per 1 cup:
Macronutrients: Fat 0.4g, Carbohydrates 3.4g, Protein 2.1g
Vitamins: Vitamin D 3.4mcg – 17% DV, Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) 0.1mg 10%
Minerals: Iron 8mg – 45% DV, Potassium 271.3mg – 6% DV, Calcium 28.4mg – 2% DV
Vegan agility tip: Mushrooms that have been exposed to sunlight or Uv have much higher vitamin D levels so buying these is an excellent way to majorly increase your vitamin D intake.
Fortified vegan foods high in vitamin D
Extra firm tofu – fortified
Nutrition info per 100g:
Macronutrients: Fat 4.9g, Carbohydrates 1.8g, Protein 10.2g
Vitamins: Vitamin D 2.5mcg – 13% DV, Vitamin B12 – 1.5mcg – 60% DV
Minerals: Calcium 246mg – 19% DV- Iron 1.6mg – 9% DV, Phosphorus 129mg – 10% DV
Health benefits and uses for firm tofu
- Firm tofu is one of the best nutrient-rich plant-based foods available on a vegan diet. It is typically fortified with a wide range of nutrients with calcium, vitamin B12, and vitamin D being the maint nutrients added.
- A 100 gram serving of fortified firm tofu provides 13% of your daily vitamin D needs helping you create optimal nutritional balance while on a vegan diet, making tofu one of the best vegan vitamin d sources.
- Tofu contains a large amount of isoflavones, which are a beneficial plant compound that has been shown to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease.
- Its also high in iron, magnesium, and protein which are all essential nutrients needed on a vegan diet.
- Tofu is also one of the most versatile foods so it has an extensive range of using it in the kitchen. From an egg replacement in scrambled tofu through to seasoned crispy tofu strips to have with vegetable stir-fried rice or vegan salad. Tofu is one of the most magnificent foods to help boost a wide range of essential nutrients needed when trying to maintain longterm health.
Soy Milk – fortified
Nutrition per 1 cup:
Macronutrients: Fat 3.9g, Carbohydrates 8.5g, Protein 2.1g
Vitamins: Vitamin D 2.9mcg – 15% DV, Vitamin B12 2.7mcg 112% DV
Minerals: Calcium 301.3mg – 23% DV, Iron 1.1mg – 6% DV, Magnesium 38.9mg – 9% DV
Health benefits and uses for soy milk
- Provides 15% of your recommended daily intake of vitamin D in just one cup making it one of the best vegan vitamin D sources.
- High in fiber with 5% recommended daily amount in just one cup helping with efficient bowel movements and longterm digestive health.
- High in vitamin b12 which is essential for all vegans and vegetarians. 1 glass is able to provide over 2.7 mcg of b12 which is over 100% of the recommended daily amount, and considering there is no set upper intake limit for b12, fortified soy milk ends up being a fantastic way to help reach your vitamin D and b12 intake needs with your favorite morning bowl of oats.
Nut milk- fortified
Nutrition per 1 cup:
Macronutrients: Fat 5g, Carbohydrates 7g, Protein 0.5g
Vitamins: Vitamin D 2.4mcg – 12% DV, Vitamin B12 3mcg – 125% DV
Minerals: Calcium 451.2mg – 35% DV, Iron 0.7mg 4% DV, Potassium 45.6mg – 1% DV
Fortified nut milks are a wonderful source of vitamin D, with enough vitamin B12 and calcium to help fulfill the nutrient needs of a vegan diet without the need for animal or dairy products making them one of the best vegan vitamin D sources. The most popular form of nut milk tends to be almond milk but the options to choose from are vast with many brands now having coconut, cashew and hazelnut flavors.
Rice milk unsweetened – fortified
Nutrition per 1 cup:
Macronutrients: Fat 2.3g, Carbohydrates 22g, Protein 0.7g
Vitamins: Vitamin D 2.4mcg – 12% DV, Vitamin B12 1.5mcg -63% DV
Minerals: Calcium 283.2mg – 22% DV, Magnesium 26.4mg – 6% DV, Iron 0.5mg – 3% DV
A great fortified milk alternative is rice and oat milk. if you have an intolerance to nuts and prefer not to consume soy products. A 1 cup serving of unsweetened rice milk should typically provide around 12% of your daily recommended vitamin D requirement hence why it makes the best vegan vitamin D sources list. In addition, the milks can also provide you with a healthy dose of iron, magnesium, and calcium, which are all crucial minerals on vegan and vegetarian diets.
Oatmeal – fortified
Nutrition per 1 cup cooked:
Macronutrients: Fat 3.2g, Carbohydrates 29.3g, Protein 5.5g
Vitamins: Vitamin D 5-15% DV, Vitamin B12 1.5mcg -20-60% DV
Minerals: Calcium 187mg- 19% DV, Magnesium 60.8mg- 15% DV, Zinc 1.5mg – 5% DV
Oatmeal and other fortified cereals can provide an excellent nutrient boost to your diet and can be a great source of vitamin D. Oatmeal is high in fiber which is excellent for your digestive system while also being high in many essential nutrients like magnesium, zinc and iron.
Oatmeal is one of the best forified cereals thanks to its clean ingredients, minimal additives, high nutrient content, and low overall calories, but not all forified cereals are equal. Many cereals may be fortified to boost the nutrient profile but contain excess fat, sugar and refined carbohydrates that are not healthy despite the beneficial fortified elements so always check the nutrition labels of your breakfast cereals before assuming they are automatically good for you.
Orange juice – fortified
Fortified orange juice is another delicious plant-based way to get enough vitamin D in your diet and has been shown to be as effective as supplementation for improving vitamin D levels.
1 cup of fortified orange juice will generally provide and 100iu of vitamin D which is 12.5-25% of your recommended daily amount.
Plant-based vitamin D supplements
Plant-based supplementation is an excellent way to ensure you get enough vitamin D without having to monitor your nutrient intake. A high-quality vegan vitamin D supplement will provide between 500iu to 5000iu depending on the strength of the serving providing a very cost-effective way to reach the recommended vitamin D levels. Vegans should take note of the vitamin D casing since some supplements will use a gelatin capsule. Our top recommended vegan vitamin D supplement is Sports research vitamin D since it hits all the necessary requirements for the plant-based needs of vegans. For other vegan alternatives, check out the best vegan vitamin d supplements available.
Sun exposure is, by far, one of the best ways to generate a healthy amount of vitamin D3 without the need for food or plant-based supplementation. Your body will naturally produce vitamin D3 through your skin when you take in a sufficient amount of sun exposure.
If you are lucky enough to live in a country with regular sunlight, basking in its rays daily can be a good way to get more of this sunshine vitamin. If you live in colder climates, it can still be beneficial to take a stroll at midday when the sun is at its peak since you will still take in some vitamin d content even though levels may be limited.
The best approach for vegans and those on plant based diets is to use a combination of all options. A regular helping of plant foods and sunlight coupled with fortified foods and plant-based supplementation as support will make fulfilling your vitamin needs a very easy task.
For a more in-depth look into vitamin D usage on a plant-based diet check out our ultimate vegan vitamin D guide.
Nutrition data taken from myfooddata.com and nutritiondata.self.com.
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