Guide to vitamin D for vegans
What is vitamin D?
You’ve probably heard people say that it’s really important for people – particularly vegans – to get enough vitamin D. So first off, what is vitamin D? It’s an essential vitamin that helps your body to absorb and use calcium and phosphorus – both of which are needed for maintaining healthy and strong teeth and bones. What’s more, vitamin D also supports the health of your heart and muscles, helps your body to clot blood, and supports your immune system.
If you don’t get enough vitamin D in your diet it can cause serious issues, including bone deformities (e.g. rickets) in children and the painful bone condition osteomalacia in adults.
Clearly, it’s an important vitamin. So where can we get it?
What are the best sources of vitamin D for vegans?
Your body can gain vitamin D naturally from sunlight, and during the sunnier parts of the year (e.g. April-September), most people can get all they need just from the sun. However, in the darker months of the year it’s important to get vitamin D from other sources.
Certain foods are a great source of vitamin D, including red meat, oily fish (e.g. herring and sardines), eggs and liver. But that doesn’t help vegans! Unfortunately, vegans can only really get additional vitamin D from fortified foods (e.g. breakfast cereals) and supplements. That’s why our Nasty Vegan Super Shake includes a healthy dose of vitamin D in every serving.
There are two major types of vitamin D, which are D2 and D3. Although both D2 and D3 are needed for a balanced diet, vitamin D3 is far more important, as studies have shown that humans absorb D3 better and it’s more effective at helping your body to fight diseases.
When looking for supplements of vitamin D3, it’s important to be aware that most of suppliers of D3 source it from animal products, so vegans need to pay extra attention to what they’re buying. Our Super Shake uses a D3 variety of vitamin D that is 100% plant-based.
How much vitamin D should I take?
The EU provides helpful guidelines for the amount of vitamins people should take. This is in the form of the NRV (Nutrient Reference Value), which for vitamin D is 5µg (micrograms) per day for the average adult. Our Super Shake contains 5µg of vitamin D per serving, so with one drink you’re getting 100% of your recommended daily amount.
However, some people may need a higher amount of vitamin D per day. The Department of Health and Social Care recommends that people take twice as much per day (10µg) if they:
- Spend most of their time indoors, so don’t get much exposure to the sun.
- Wear clothes that cover most of their skin when outside.
- Have dark skin (e.g. Africans, south Asians, or African-Caribbeans).
Always talk to your doctor if you have any concerns about your levels of vitamin D and follow their advice if they recommended that you take a certain amount of it.
Can I take too much vitamin D?
So now you know how to get vitamin D, you may be wondering what happens if you take too much of it. Don’t worry, you need to have a lot before it becomes a risk to your health. The NHS recommends that adults don’t take more than 100 micrograms per day, which would be 20 times the recommended daily amount.
It’s important not to take too much vitamin D, as doing so over a long period of time can create excessive amounts of calcium in your body in a condition called hypercalcaemia, which can weaken the bones and damage the heart and kidneys.
When it comes to being in the sun, there’s no risk of getting too much vitamin D from sunshine, but of course you need to be careful not to be in the sun for too long and not to get burned, as it can cause skin damage and skin cancer. And it goes without saying that you should always wear sun cream.
To summarise, everyone needs vitamin D in their diet, but vegans will certainly need a supplement to hit the recommended levels. That’s why we’ve packed our Super Shake with 100% of the NRV for vitamin D. So, with one shake per day, you’re covered! That’s all part of why we believe our Nasty Vegan Super Shake is one of the best vegan protein powers out there. Try it today!
Sources of info
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