Vitamin D!

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!

Number 1

The Sun!!

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!

Number 2


(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. 

This means that eating just one gram of sun-treated shiitake – about one tenth of one mushroom – would give you 460 IU, close to the FDA’s recommended daily dose of 400 IU, A very Low Level IMHO, and about a quarter of Dr. Weil’s recommended 2,000 IU. In his book, Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World, Stamets concluded, “(In) populations where vitamin D is seriously deficient, sun-exposed dried mushrooms can help address a serious health issue.”
While Vitamin D toxicity is most commonly related to Supplements, If you feel nauseous, weak, have no appetite, vomit or have frequent urination you may have over done it, or be sensitive to mushrooms. I have never had a problem myself and eat fairly large amounts of mushrooms in the winter months. Some people are concerned about the “toxic” qualities of certain raw mushrooms, I again haven’t had a issue, this doesn’t mean there is none, rather that I feel the benefits outweigh the potential drawbacks. Commonly Button Mushrooms are named the most toxic, my personal favorites are Crimni, Portobello, Shiitake and occasionally Oyster.
A really cool thing about mushrooms is that Putting them in the sun and/or a dehydrator vastly changes their texture and taste, I wouldn’t doubt it breaks down some of the toxins, but this is opinion. I love to Charge my Mushrooms in the sun, or under my Home Grow Light, for Fruit Tree’s, and then squeeze a lime, or some tomato juice, or a more elaborate sauce and either Dehydrate or Sun them again to multiply the flavor, it actually comes out tasting like a “cooked” mushroom. I have 4 awesome Mushroom Charged Recipes including Portobello mushroom Pizza’s and Crimni Stuffers in my “TRA Retreat Treats” ebook / book and mushrooms in my favourite Curry Recipe here, as well as in many pizza recipes in “Frickin Rawsome Pizza”!

Here is a very good and thoural review of Mushrooms as a Potential source of Vitamin D!

Last but definitely not least, Simply enjoy Mushrooms, If you enjoy them eat em, if not take a Pass! I wouldn’t recommend eating anything for any nutrient if you do not enjoy the process and taste of eating it. I love love love mushrooms so simply prefer them during the winter to other options, you may find Option Number 3 to be more appealing 🙂
Number 3

Full Spectrum Broad Spectrum or Blue Light Therapy
These are the 3 most commonly used artificial Light sources for Effectively Treating SAD. It has been shown that 10000 LUX ( a measurement of Light) from Broad Spectrum is safer than Full Spectrum, aka Light Boxes (used more for the Full Spectrum as it needs a UV shield), with less UV radiation, while Blue Is thought to be Even Better than Broad as well as lasts much longer as its typically a LED. Most testing has been done on 10000 LUX Broad Spectrum and thus is the Industry standard for effective Light Therapy. 
The General Usage is the 10000 LUX Broad Spectrum light Board at 20 – 30 inches from your face, looking in the general direction of the light, for 20 – 30 minutes a day. This can easily be done while reading, working on a computer or simply relaxing during any relatively stationary activity. I have also seen LED Light Therapy Hats that have the lights on the underside, How effective I don’t know, but at least the technology is expanding and being played with.
The Down side of these lights is the expense, getting good quality true 10000 LUX seems to be the priority as I have heard there are many cheep ineffective devices. I would recommend getting a good solid review before investing. I have seen what looked plausibly decent from hundreds to 2500$ + although truly I do not think you need go anywhere near the high end to make the difference especially coupled with the top 2 above.
Myself what I did this past year was simply use my Grow Lights. When off for the plants down time I replaced the light in my work space with a compact screw in Full spectrum bulb and kept it 3 feet away from me while I worked hours on my computer. For me I feel ok doing this, while they are much less expensive they are not as Studied for Human use. These surely have more UV radiation concerns as they are also Full Spectrum Lights without any Blockers (like the Full Spectrum SAD light Boxes). The Broad Spectrum and Blue Lights are specified to reduce the “harmful” UV and focus on those wavelengths responsible for Vitamin D production. This said Grow lights, even at a further distance, say as a Reading light or general lamp light have been used by individuals with marked success. Because they are often at much lower LUX they are safe to use for longer periods of time. This brings up another issue, Grow lights are measured in Watts, this can be hard to convert to LUX as watts is input and LUX is Output. Do some personal research, with growing demand we may already have or see a decent quality tested grow lamp or really affordable LED or Blue Grow lamp on the horizon.
Another Option not even gone over in the video, but of course related is Tanning Beds. While i am not huge on them, have used them to “pre-tan” before heading on holidays and know they can be effective in this regard. I would recommend using beds with electronic ballasts rather than magnetic ballasts to avoid unnecessary exposure to EMF fields. With either of these types, Grow lights, Tanning Beds or more specific Light Therapy units, If your skin feels irritated or gets very pink, you basically know you have over done it. 
More is not Better when it comes to sun, mushrooms or these Lights
Even more true when it comes to…
Number 4
While I am neither For not Against Supplements My personal choice is always to focus on lifestyle and food first. With this philosophy I haven’t found a need for supplements of any kind. There are many ways to get Vitamin D. Most often people suffer from imbalances and absorption issues rather than actual deficiency, when this is the case supplements can simply lead to further imbalance. Finding and fixing the root cause IMHO is always the best starting point, if needed and of course if resonates Supplements are a effective and great option. 
Supplemental Vitamin D is widely available in a variety of forms both in D2 and D3. My friend n 30+ year Raw Food Expert Don Bennett wrote a excellent article (very informative) on vitamin D. He is very thoural covering many more bases, facts and tidbits than I will here, recommending the Supplements he feels work best. I really encourage you to check his page n pour over his valuable site. While there may be a few little points I differ in, Don really really knows his stuff and I really respect his judgment. In general, although studies have shown D2 can be effective, D3 supplements are by far more absorbable and last/hold in the system longer resulting in less need to take and retake them.
Don Posted on my video above saying
Regardless of how you choose to get the D you require, bottom-line, TEST! Doing so will let you know if what you are doing to get D is working? or not. The test is the 25(OH)D test, also known as 25-hydroxy-vitamin-D. It can be done at home and mailed to the lab. You do not need a doctor’s order to get one. The range you’re looking for and the resource for the test is Here.
While there are now “vegan” D3 supplements available Don’s Research (newer research below) has led him to find
The problem is, there is no such thing as a truly vegan D3. D3 products that claim to be vegan are made from mushrooms or lichen, which would define them as vegan, but it is non-vegan D3 that is “fed” to the mushrooms or lichen. So “vegan D3” is made from a non-vegan source. One company that manufactures a “vegan D3″ supplement even admits this in their product description, but is of the opinion that their product is vegan. While I applaud their honesty, I don’t agree with their opinion.”
I am curious what is “fed” to the lichen, as to me that would make some difference. As plant matter in effect is made from decay both plant and animal, I would see a big difference from Manure (often used in compost, im near postive this is what’s used) to Fish guts (also used but ewww). Either way this is a potential reality of the so called “vegan” D3 supplements, in my mind strengthening my own faith in the first 3.
Seemingly New Options have come to light, (thanks Manuela for the tip) that there now is a certified Vegan D3 supplement called Vitasine. Vitasine is also made from Lichen although it has been fully certified by the Vegetarian and Vegan Society, both internally and independently tested. This Lichen is Wild Harvested, so like all plants it lives off both plant and animal matter, is really a cross between a Fungus and a Algae, neat stuff. It seems they are looking into growing and feeding the Lichen off of Simple sugars, time will tell where this goes. 
Great to have more Vegan Options!!
Well there you have it, those are my top 4 “Ways to get Vitamin D”
1. The Sun
2. Mushrooms
3. Full Spectrum Broad Spectrum or Blue Light Therapy
4. Supplements
I really hope this
a) brings you much ease and
b) sparks you to do some of your own research
All comments and thoughts Welcome, as mentioned this is my Feelings and Observations from personal experience and research, what I feel Comfortable with and have found success and ease with to this juncture, may you find yours.
Wishing you much
PeaceLovenSeasonalFruit ck