How to get Vitamin D as a Vegan, Should you be Concerned about Vitamin D, what are my favorite sources of Vitamin D and Creating Ease in Getting sufficient Vitamin D as a Vegan or Raw Vegan!
Hope you love love love the Video!
Soo Vitamin D,
I find this one nutrient, along with Vitamin B12, to be a hot topic of debate controversy and concern. I have met many people who are frightened to become a vegan, or sway from their vegan diet thinking about a possible deficiency of either Vitamin D or B12. Slight Vitamin D deficiency is pretty common now a days for a variety of reasons we will go over, S.A.D or Seasonal Affective Disorder is marked by low D levels bringing Depression, tiredness and general listlessness.
Today we are going to tackle Why Vitamin D is so important for a healthy lifestyle as well as my Personal favorite 4 ways to ensure you have enough vitamin D on your Vegan Lifestyle, even in the winter time up north or down south.
Vitamin D is important for a wide range of functions. For example, it helps to regulate the amount of Calcium as well as Phosphate in the body, these nutrients are important in keeping the bones and teeth healthy. Chronically low levels of Vitamin D can lead to Bone Deformities such as Rickets in Children as well as Bone Pain and Tenderness as a result of a Condition known as Osteomalacia in Adults. Deficiency in vitamin D has been shown to be connected to / effects Obesity, Diabetes, Some forms of Cancer, Osteoporosis, possibly MS, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel diseases like Crone’s Disease and Ulcerative colitis, heart disease and increased incidence of heart attacks and strokes as well as a Variety of other Chronic Degenerative Diseases.
Vitamin D being such a important Nutrient for such a wide array of health conditions, or more accurately so important in staying healthy vital and Balanced that I feel its about time I tackle this subject. My mission with this post is to help bring complete ease to the whole thought of Vitamin D, to make it so simple to get enough, no matter where you are that its truly a non-issue.
As with anything I would recommend doing your own research, coming up with your own numbers and needs finding ease and peace in your own intuition and findings. I am simply pointing at the moon, this blog post isn’t the moon itself ahah 😉
Here is a helpful guide to Basic Vitamin D Needs and Measurements. Some people recommend Much much Higher Levels than even recommended here for better health, thus the debate/controversy continues.
To my Top 4 sources of Vitamin D,
Top Vegan Vitamin D Sources!
Yes that’s right boys and Girls, The Sun!
Part of the reason there is such confusion from the mainstream media about Vitamin D is that it corresponds with so many health issues, has such profit potential and yet is 100% free from the sun. Giving straight forward info with out Scare Tactics would loose many industries a lot of money. The sun is the safest most effective, Natural and age old supply of Vitamin D. We can produce all that we need with zero chance of overdosing by getting adequate sun exposure. Vitamin D is produced by our skins interaction with UVB light when it interfaces with a form of Cholesterol in our skin called 7-dehydrocholesterol. A series of Complex steps proceed that we do not need to go into it here.
One important note I like to make is that the actual first step of production occurs on the skins surface and takes hours to develop and absorb. I have heard as long as 24 hours after exposure for full absorption. What this means is that directly after sun exposure it is to your benefit to refrain from hot showers or using soap all over your body. If you feel “dirty” and “sweaty” and wish to rinse off with cool water and soap your “stinky parts” that IMHO would be better for Vitamin D absorption than the hot shower and full body soaping. Another important note to consider is that most Sunscreens, despite being toxic and cancer causing, hormone mimicking substances (join my mailing list for a free report that goes deeper into this) it also blocks up to 95% of Vitamin D production, even at as little as 8 SPF. A much better alternative IMHO is Raw Unprocessed Coconut Oil, being a 4 SPF its mild but can help a bit as a pre-sun Exposure or Aftercare for light burns.
The short and skinny of it is, Get exposed to the sun, as much skin as you can but be careful not to burn. It’s no coincidence that when your eating a diet high in antioxidants, a diet made of mostly of or entirely of fresh raw ripe whole fruits and vegetables, your ability to take sun, heal from burn and/or retain a tan is heightened. The best times of day to take sun IMHO ( coming from a place of wanting to be in it comfortably for a decent amount of time, not less) are in the morning hours before 10-11 am and after mid day, or when the sun is the highest. If you can barely see your shadow you run the risk of burning much faster, generally if your shadow is as tall as you or taller this is the best time to take sun, that is if you wish to take it for pleasure rather than purpose.
On the Otherhand if you have Scant Time and wish to get your Vitamin D from the Sun as Fast as Possible the exact opposite seems to be true. There have been studies in England, Norway, and the US saying the optimal time to be in the sun for fast and efficient vitamin D production is NEAR TO SOLAR NOON AS POSSIBLE. That would be between say 10:00am and 2:00pm. First reason being, you need a shorter? exposure time because the UVB is more intense. The second reason is that when the sun heads towards the horizon, the UVB is filtered out much more than the UVA (which is the wave highly correlated with melanoma) while its the UVB is the one that produces the vitamin D. EIther way you prefer, watch for burn and enjoy the exposure to the max!
During the summer months and closer to the equator the sun is much much stronger, the further from the equator you are and the further from summer generally the lower the vitamin D Production will be. One thing to consider, elevation is a factor, being on top of a mountain up north you would be exposed to more vitamin D than in a valley. If you can get a Tan you can get some Vitamin D.
The amount of time you will need in the sun to get adequate Vitamin D is also in relation to your Skin tone, the darker your skin the longer it will take to produce adequate vitamin D. This is a adaption from living in more tropical regions being out in the sun longer. These days with busy indoor lives it makes it much harder for those with dark skin to get enough. Here’s a link to a handy calculator that shows the altitude and azimuth of the Sun during any part of the year and any part of the world.
No need for stress, rather Do some of your own research, see how you feel and use it all as relevant information alongside the 4 options I provide.
Sun gazing is another way to get Vitamin D from the sun, a ancient practice simply marked by gazing at the morning sunrise and evening Sunset. Actually a form of Yoga, also Practiced by virtually every ancient culture. If you think about it who doesn’t naturally feel as ease and peace watching a sunset or sunrise. This brings a automatic Meditative state with a wide range of benefits. Even Light boxes, or S.A.D therapy instructs the user to face the light box in order to get the UV in the Eyes. If this resonates with you I would highly recommend researching this on your own as well as checking out my Brother Brian Calvi’s (from The Farm of Life) videos all about it video 1, video 2 and video 3.
During the Winter months try to take a vacation to the tropics or subtropics, Get up into the mountains snowboarding, take some sun where you can get it, Sungaze and otherwise look below to my other 3 Top Sources for Vitamin D!
(store bought varieties Crimni, Portabello, Button and Shitaki are best, never pick and eat unless you really really know what you are doing)
Yes Mushrooms!! Mushrooms as well as Lichen (more on this below) are some of the only “plant”* sources of Vitamin D, more accurately Vitamin D2. While Vitamin D3 is what our body produces and is surely a superior Vitamin D source, Vitamin D2 has been shown to be effective in treating Rickets and S.A.D albeit requiring larger doses more often. To me this is no problem as I love love love mushrooms and can easily enjoy eating them once or a few times a week. Not coincidentally I find I love Mushrooms even more during the winter months when my Vitamin D needs Increase, I otherwise utilize 3 of my 4 Favorite Sources for Vitamin D anyhow.
*“plant” as there is some controversy whether mushrooms are truly Plants… I think so 😉
Many well reputed experts actually say you should never eat raw mushrooms at all, that they should always be cooked. There are two main reasons for this and I will go into both as well as why I am not concerned.
The first reason often given is that there is information showing that raw mushrooms contain higher levels of toxic substances such as Agaritine than when cooked. Being a avid researcher and lifelong learner, as well as a mushroom lover, I dug deeper.
The studies showing any concern over toxicity that are most often referenced in such articles are:
1. are done on mice and rats, of which we are neither and
2. utilised mega doses of synthetic argaritine equivalent to a years serving of mushrooms all at once or large amounts consecutively over days.
It’s important to note that all foods have some level of toxicity, even greens which is in part why it is good to rotate our greens. This isolated viewpoint also negates the reality that all nutrients work in concert with other nutrients, not in isolation, and besides that the truth that mushrooms also have many other super healthful nutrients. Lastly it has been shown that the argaritine content of mushrooms goes down over time and is reduced by drying, refrigeration and exposure to uv light, enough so that the average mushroom you would purchase has very small amounts. When using the techniques I do for preparing mushrooms (sunning and or drying) the amount is even lower 🙂
The second reason some say we should avoid raw mushrooms is due to the fact that they are grown in / with feces. This imho is more valid than the first concern and yet can be rectified fairly easily. Most chefs do not like to wash mushrooms as they are porous and absorb water, if you do want to wash them do so with running water over the top and gently scrub downward with your finger, a cloth or paper towel. Others simply rub each dry mushroom with a damp cloth or paper towel, lastly one can peel the skin off if desired and remove the stem. Myself I simply prefer to expose my mushrooms to uv / uvb light preferably under the bright hot sun and otherwise under a UVB grow light. It is well known that uv light is a powerful antibacterial and as mentioned below increases the vitamin D content considerably. With this all in mind it is most often that the immune compromised, seniors, children or pregnant women are recommended to cook them. We all must make our own decisions for our health, I for one am not worried and feel a small amount of bacteria can actually have a positive overall effect on my microbiome and immune health, that said if one simply prefers to lightly steam or bake their mushrooms for extra safety that’s their choice.
Aside from all of this, for me Personally I know during the winter months Especially I desire mushrooms. I Love love love the flavor as well as the texture and only find benefit from eating them. I have eaten lots over the winter months with zero negative noticeable side effects, does that mean there are and can never be none what so ever, no, but for me it means the benefits are well worth it. For me this alongside my own confidence in my research is the true measure, is it effective, does it bring more ease, joy and peace. For me these are all Yes, yes yes.
Personally I love and use button, crimni, shitaki, oyster and Portabelo.
Something really cool about mushrooms is that when they are exposed to ultra violet light, Sunlight or Artificial UVB light, the Vitamin D levels Increase Significantly. Significantly may be a understatement, The mushroom Lady describes this finding: “It has been demonstrated that when white button mushrooms are exposed to Ultraviolet B radiation, for a short period of time, the level of Vitamin D increases to levels many times the minimum daily requirement, i.e.. 400 IU (10 mcg.) Normally, a serving** of white button mushrooms contains 18 IU, international units, (0.45 mcg.). Treated mushrooms contain over 3200 IU (80 mcg.)***”
** 1 serving is equal to 100g of white button mushrooms.
***Mattila, P.H., Food Chemistry, 2002Further
Even more amazing, in the summer of 2004, mycologist Paul Stamets discovered that the level of vitamin D in freshly picked, indoor- grown shiitake mushrooms rose from 110 IU (2.75 mcg) to an astonishing 46,000 IU (1150 mcg.) per 100 grams when the mushrooms were placed outdoors in the sun for just six hours with the gills facing up (when the gills were facing down, the level rose to 10,900 IU (272.5 mcg.)). This shows that The mushrooms Produce much more vitamin D with their gills facing Up, further studies have shown that there is no significant increase after 16 hours of sun exposure.