Everyone knows you get Vitamin D from the sun, and of course, almost every adult knows the joke version of where to get this nutrient, but I bet if you asked someone which plant foods have Vitamin D in them, they’d be at a loss.
I was even surprised to learn that the only plant based food that has naturally occurring Vitamin D is mushrooms. In fact, if I didn’t research it for this series, I probably wouldn’t have learned that. I mean, don’t get me wrong, there is Vitamin D in lots of vegetables, but the amount in other vegetables is so minimal, you can’t use them as your main source for the nutrient.
I was especially eager to do this nutrient, because as someone living in Toronto (Canada) where our weather is mostly winter, getting Vitamin D from the sun can be quite a challenge for the majority of the year. And as most people know, you can’t just go outside without sunscreen on for a few hours and ‘stock up’ on Vitamin D so you’re good for the year. (Though Vitamin D is fat soluble, meaning our bodies can store some extra)
So, what if you’re vegan and live somewhere with minimal sun, and don’t like mushrooms? Does that mean you’re just screwed?
Luckily, no! Similar to B12, there are foods available that have been fortified with Vitamin D, that are vegan friendly. Unfortunately, the list isn’t very long, but there’s definitely enough to have a bit of variety. Also, as someone who used to hate mushrooms, if you just make yourself eat them (in small amounts), eventually you’ll see they aren’t all that bad.
Starting in the top left corner, going clockwise:
- The Sun (10 minutes outside without sunscreen in summer)
- Orange Juice (1C = 100IU)
- Oat/Almond/Rice Milk (1C = 85-90IU)
- Soy Milk (1C = 86IU)
- Maitake Mushrooms (1C = 786IU)
- Portobello Mushrooms (1C = 634IU)
- Shiitake Mushrooms (1C = 26IU)
- White Button Mushrooms (1C = 7IU)
For those who may be as confused as I was, IU stands for International Units. I’m not too sure why this is the unit of measure for this particular nutrient, but I’m sure there’s some scientific/important reason other than ‘just to be different’.
It’s recommended that people 1 year to 70 years old get 600-4,000IU of Vitamin D each day. This may sound like a lot, but don’t forget our bodies can store some excess Vitamin D, and even if you’re inside, if you’re by a window that’s in the sun, you’re still getting some Vitamin D.
Also, if you make a kick-ass mushroom dish (one of my favourites is a family recipe, called Peas and Mushrooms [can you guess what’s in it?] or you could make a stir fry, stuffed mushrooms, pasta with mushrooms… there are tons of dishes you could make with mushrooms!) you’ll have plenty of Vitamin D stocked up.
And if you’re still worried, there’s always Tinder.
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