Vitamin D plays an important role in bone health, as well as in immune, nerve, and muscle function. In addition, it may play a role in protecting against cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, and depression. Most children and adults (ages 1 to 70) need 600 IU of Vitamin D per day, though older adults need a bit more.
The Sunshine Vitamin
Vitamin D is known as the sunshine vitamin because our bodies can actually make and absorb vitamin D from sun exposure. According to the NIH, 5 – 30 minutes of sun exposure between 10 am and 3 pm twice a week to the face, arms, legs, or back without sunscreen is usually enough to help boost vitamin D intake. This process varies widely depending on the season, time of day, cloud cover, skin color, and sunscreen use, so eating food sources of vitamin D (such as fortiﬁed dairy products, or some mushrooms) is also important.
If you aren’t able to get outdoors in the middle of the day or if you’re concerned that you’re not getting enough vitamin D, include these foods in your diet:
|Food||Serving||Vitamin D (IU)|
|Maitake mushrooms **||1 cup, diced||786|
|Portobello mushrooms **||1 cup, sliced||634|
|Soy milk, original, fortiﬁed with vitamin D||1 cup||120*|
|Almond milk, original, fortiﬁed with vitamin D||1 cup||100*|
|Chanterelle mushrooms, raw**||1 cup||114|
|Orange juice, fortiﬁed with
|Soy yogurt, fortiﬁed with vitamin D||150 grams||80*|
|Ready-to-eat cereal, fortiﬁed with vitamin D||¾ – 1 cup||40*|
|Food||Serving||VITAMIN D (IU)|
|Milk, low-fat, fortiﬁed with vitamin D||1 cup||127|
|Yogurt, fortiﬁed with vitamin D||6 ounces||80|
|Egg||1 whole, medium||41|
|Cheese, Swiss||1 ounce||6|
Do I need a supplement?
As with all dietary supplements, it’s important to discuss vitamin D supplementation with your healthcare provider, especially if you’re vegan. Your healthcare provider can help you determine how much (if any) supplementation is right for you. Vegans may be at greater risk for low vitamin D intake, but they can obtain vitamin D from regular exposure to sun and fortiﬁed foods.
For a more guided look at how to build healthy vegetarian meal plans, check out our Oldways 4-week Vegetarian & Vegan Diet Menu Plan, which will help you create satisfying, balanced, budget-friendly meals inspired by cuisines from diﬀerent cultures. The recipes are based oﬀ of the Vegetarian & Vegan Diet Pyramid and feature an abundance of delicious, healthy foods such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, whole grains, legumes, herbs, and spices.
Kelly Toups, Director of Nutrition
**Exposing mushrooms to UV light causes measurable increases in the vitamin D2 content; amount of vitamin D2 will vary depending on the type of light and duration of exposure.
*May vary depending on product.
All nutritional information from USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference or food manufacturer labeling.