Can Vitamin D3 be Vegan?
Written by Ben: BA(Hons), PGCert. Sport & Exercise Nutrition.
As a vegan, there are certain supplements that you will need to add to your diet to ensure that you are getting all of the essential vitamins necessary for your health, such as vitamin B12, calcium, iron, and vitamin D.
While there are vitamin D supplements available widely, many people will feel that they are unnecessary because the body can create vitamin D when the skin is exposed to sunlight. This is why it is known as the sunshine vitamin. 3 However, there are different strains of vitamin D, and both vitamin D2 and D3 are available from certain foods.
Vitamin D is an important vitamin for our bodies as it supports the regulation of healthy bones, muscle, supports the immune system, and can contribute to a healthy metabolism. It works by controlling the amount of calcium and phosphate is absorbed by the body. 2
Those who follow a vegetarian or vegan nutrition plan may need to add vitamin D3 into their diets, as without it, their bone health can suffer. 4 To maintain your vegan diet, it is important to understand what vitamins are essential to your health and whether you can get it naturally from the food you consume.
This is going to be a guide to vitamin D3 for people who wish to follow a vegan lifestyle, where we will provide all the information necessary to help you maintain your dietary plans while also supporting bone health, muscle growth, and your overall wellbeing.
What Is Vitamin D?
There are two types of vitamin D which is why it can be difficult to determine what kind you need and how it can work for vegans. Vitamin D2 is always vegan as it is made by plants and is known as ergocalciferol. However, for vegans, vitamin D3 is not as simple as it is mainly found in animal products such as meat, fish, eggs, and dairy. Thus, why food sources of D3 are not generally considered vegan.
Vitamin D3 is the kind of vitamin D that the body can naturally create when the skin is exposed to sunlight, but depending on the environment you live in, you might not be getting enough this way. So few of the global population get enough vitamin D that it is considered a major public health issue. 5 This is why it is often recommended to adults and children, whether they are vegan or not, to take vitamin D supplements during the winter months to increase their vitamin D levels when there is not a lot of exposure to sunlight. 6
Some natural sources of vitamin D3 can be vegan, as this vitamin can also be found in a vegan-friendly fungus called lichen, but vitamin D is more easily obtained through meat, fish, and other non-plant-based foods. This is why it is likely that those who are vegan will need to take something else to provide the necessary vitamin D supplementation for their body.
The two versions of vitamin D interact with the body in different ways due to the hormones they create. Vitamin D3 supplements create cholecalciferol which helps with bone health and provides the additional health benefits which we have already mentioned. Vitamin D2 can be just as important, but as this can be found in plant-based food products, it is not as much of a concern for vegans.
Do I Need To Take Vitamin D?
There are some clear signs of vitamin D deficiency that you should be aware of, as this will be an indicator that you need to start using a vitamin D supplement or increase your vitamin D intake through your diet.
While the majority of vitamin D can be created in the body and is available through some vegan foods, those who stick solely to plant-based diets are more at risk of vitamin D deficiency than those who eat animal products, as such vegans need to take a supplement. 7 Vitamin D deficiency is also more likely to occur during the winter months when people are less exposed to sunshine. However, even those suffering from a vitamin D deficiency may not notice any initial symptoms. 8
If you are concerned about your vitamin D levels, the following symptoms show that you have a deficiency and need to increase your intake:
• Aches in the bones and joints
• An impaired immune system with a greater risk of infections
• Growth issues
• Gum disease
While it is not always so clear that the body is lacking in vitamin D, these are some of the issues that can arise when you are not getting the right amount of vitamins in your diet. Cholecalciferol, which comes from vitamin D, is vital for the health of the body, and vegans may need to improve their vitamin D intake through supplements.
Is Vitamin D3 Vegan?
As we have mentioned, there are two types of vitamin D – vitamin D2 is always vegan, as this vitamin can be found in plants. However, vitamin D3 is more commonly found in meat, fatty fish, dairy, and eggs which can mean that vegans do not get the necessary levels of vitamin D intake from their diet alone, this is why D3 isn’t commonly known as being suitable for vegan diets.
Vitamin D can also be created in the body through sun exposure, which is why vitamin D supplements are recommended to be taken by vegans and non-vegans during the winter months. In this time, exposure to sunshine drastically decreases, which reduces the amount of vitamin D and can impact the muscles and bones.
However, as vitamin D3 comes mainly from foods that are not suitable for vegans, it is suggested that people who follow a plant-based diet need to take a daily vitamin D supplement. Supplements are a great way to increase the levels of certain nutrients that cannot be found in our diet.
Not all vitamin D supplements are made the same way, and as a vegan, you need to be very careful about what you put into your body. There are some natural, vegan-friendly sources that can increase the vitamin D status of the body, which is ideal for those on plant-based diets. However, there are also vegan vitamin D3 supplements available if you know what to look for, although the manufacturing process tends to be more expensive to produce vegan D3.
To know whether a vitamin D supplement is suitable for vegans and vegetarians, we need to look into how the supplement was synthesized.
In most cases, in order to synthesize vitamin D3 supplementation requires a precursor which is obtained from sheep wool oil, meaning it is not suitable for vegans. In this process, a supplement made from cholecalciferol is derived from lanolin. Lanolin is extracted from sheep’s wool, and any supplement that contains this process is not suitable for plant-based diets.
There are newer processes to creating vitamin D supplements that can make them suitable for people who are vegan or vegetarian.
Usually, a vitamin D3 supplement that has been made chemically should be suitable for vegans as it will still contain good levels of cholecalciferol, which is vital for health but has been made manually in a lab. As it is not extracted from natural sources of vitamin D3, which is usually found in animal products, this kind of vitamin D supplement is suitable for those on meat-free diets.
There are some other forms of creating vegan vitamin D3 and vitamin D2 through microbial fermentation. This process of creating vitamin D in a supplement works through bacteria, fungi like lichen, and yeast which is also suitable for plant-based diets.
To ensure that the supplements you are taking are completely suitable for vegan dietary requirements, you might have to contact the manufacturer or look into the manufacturing process used to extract vitamin D. You can also look into whether the vegetarian society has supported the supplement as a suitable form of calcium and nutrients for vegan diets.
How To Get Vegan Vitamin D3
Some brands offer a vegan vitamin D3 supplement, such as our own Military Muscle whereas our Fertiligy product uses D2. These are both completely safe for vegan and vegetarian diets. The types of vitamin D3 and vitamin D2 have been obtained from plant sources, such as lichen and fungi.
Following the demand for vegan supplements 9, it is likely that there will be more choices for vegan people in the future as other brands follow suit.
Supplements are a way to increase vitamin D absorption in the body, prevention of muscle weakness and other health issues. Usually, this vitamin is found in foods such as oily fish, meat, and eggs which is why those who are vegan require an additional intake.
While some plant-based foods have a good vitamin D3 content, many vegans will likely need to get their nutrients in the form of a supplement to obtain the recommended daily intake of 200iu.
However, it is not just as simple as checking that your supplement includes a vegan version of vitamin D, you also need to clarify whether the supplement comes in the form of a capsule, and if so, is it gelatin or not?
If it is gelatin this means the product isn’t vegan-friendly (even if the source of vitamin D is). A plant-based and vegan-friendly alternative to look out for is HPMC, also known as Hydroxypropyl Methylcellulose.
The HPMC capsule acts and looks exactly like a gelatin capsule but is produced from a vegetable source. While some supplements may be sprays or drops, a product that includes multiple nutrients such as those from Mil-Tech Pharma are often in capsule form. You can read more about vegan capsules, here.
To help you maintain your health and improve your daily intake of vitamin D3, we are going to share some natural and vegan sources of vitamin D.
As we have mentioned, vitamin D is known as the sunshine vitamin because it can be created naturally through exposure to sunlight. The ultraviolet-B or UVB rays from the sunshine can provide enough vitamin D for most people, as long as you are being exposed to it.
Vitamin D is created in the body through the absorption of UVB rays by the skin, and it is recommended for most people to get at least 30 minutes of sun exposure a day to 20-30% of their body. 10 However, while the natural absorption of sunlight is an excellent source of vitamin D for vegans, it does come with some issues.
This is a way to get vitamin D if you are living in a location with a lot of sunlight, which is why many people are required to use vitamin D supplements in the winter. Likewise, too much exposure to sunshine can increase the risk of skin cancer. If you are going to be exposing your skin to the sunshine to get the nutrients necessary, make sure you are protected.
This means adding a layer of sun cream to the skin before it is exposed to sunlight. You can also cover the skin using clothing to prevent sunburn.
Vitamin D usually comes from food sources such as meat, fish, eggs, and dairy – which is also an excellent source of calcium, which is also required for healthy bones. However, some plant-based food sources can be used to increase the intake of vitamin D.
As a vegan, you need to be careful about the kind of food you consume to maintain your diet and ensure you are getting the right nutrients, but there are still some good options available. Vitamin D3 can be found in some simple, everyday food sources, including some breakfast cereals, mushrooms, fortified orange juice. However, vegan food sources are limited.
Calcium-rich foods such as kale, broccoli, and collard greens are another great way to increase your vegan vitamin D3 intake and experience the benefits of this vitamin. It has also been reported that one of the best sources of vegan vitamin D3 and calcium is found in rice milk.
Various recipes can be found online that can inspire you to add more vitamin D3 products into your diet. Recipes are a great form of content for vegans and vegetarians as they can help you come up with new, fun, and tasty meals that are also very healthy.
Perhaps one of the best ways to get vitamin D3 into your vegan lifestyle is to use a supplement. As we have mentioned, our brands specialize specifically in vegan supplements where the nutrients come from lichen or fungi meaning they are completely plant-based.
You can find more information regarding the contents of a vitamin D supplement to ensure this is a suitable form of supplementation for your vegan lifestyle. Supplements that are derived from lichen and other plant-based products are best for vegans, as usually the process of synthesizing vitamin D relies on sheep wool.
It is very easy to buy and use one of our recommended vegan vitamin D supplements online. Simply select the product you want to buy through our product page, add it to the basket, and pay. All orders are processed quickly, come with free shipping, and you will be able to start to get the benefits of supplements from a vegan-friendly source.
Vitamin D is a vital nutrient for your health and wellbeing. Increasing vitamin D can come with various benefits to your bones and muscles, which is why all people should make sure they are getting enough, whether they are vegan or not.
To ensure that you are maintaining your vegan lifestyle, there is certain information you need to obtain before using a supplement. A vegan vitamin D3 supplement will have come from plants or been chemically made, which is not the process that all brands use.
Vitamin D is a vital nutrient for your health, and you can increase it easily using the methods in this article.
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