Did you realize that these foods can contain byproducts from the skins of cows or pigs?…
- Tropicana fortified orange juice
- Fortified cereals like Cheerios, Kix, and Total 100%
- Fortified milk
- Fortified Dannon and Yoplait yogurt
Let me explain.
Whole plant foods don’t contain significant amounts of usable vitamin D. This a huge concern for vegans and vegetarians because our bodies need vitamin D to absorb calcium, and to build and maintain strong bones.
Mushrooms, algae, and a few other plants make ergosterol, a molecule that becomes vitamin D2 when irradiated by the sun’s ultraviolet rays.
But the ergosterol harvested from mushrooms and algae requires significant concentrating and processing.
What’s more, the amount of ergosterol in most mushrooms used for food is insignificant and thus, it cannot be relied upon as a vitamin D source.
Why Ovo-Lacto Vegetarians Don’t Get Enough Vitamin D Either
The USDA recommends 200-600 IU of Vitamin D per day depending on your age. To be specific:
Birth to 50 years: 200 IU
51-70 years: 400 IU
71+ years 15 mcg: 600 IU
Milk from all lactating animals, including humans, contains vitamin D3. Some researchers say vitamin D3 is no better for humans than vitamin D2, but others say vitamin D3 is more potent and effective.
Unfortunately, a quart of milk only contains 35-70 IU of Vitamin D3. So even consuming dairy products won’t meet your Vitamin D requirements.
Fortification To The Rescue
That’s why it’s become common practice to “fortify” milk, yogurt, orange juice, breakfast cereals, and other foods with vitamin D3.
For omnivores, this is no problem. But if you’re a vegan or vegetarian, you’ll be alarmed to know that Vitamin D3 can come from sheep wool lanolin, pig skin, or cow skin. And here’s the clincher…
There’s no law requiring food manufacturers to indicate the source of the D3 in their foods. There couldn’t be. That’s because after D3 is extracted, purified, and crystallized, it’s impossible to determine the original source.
What Should Vegans and Vegetarians Do?
First, whenever you notice the word “Fortified” on a food label, check the ingredients. If Vitamin D3 is on the list, don’t buy it.
If the ingredient list only says “Vitamin D”, and doesn’t specify whether it’s plant-based Vitamin D2 or animal-based Vitamin D3, there’s a good chance it’s D3.
Second, plant-based Vitamin D2 is found in many fortified non-dairy milks. But the quantity is far too small to meet our daily requirements. The only real solution is to take supplements with Vitamin D2.
The multi-vitamin we recommend is Dr. Fuhrman’s Gentle Care Formula. It’s vegan and it contains 800 IU of plant-based Vitamin D2. It also supplies the required daily allowance of Vitamin B12. You can order it here:
If you want even more Vitamin D, Dr. Fuhrman’s Osteo-Sun vegan formula contains 1800 IU of plant-based Vitamin D2. To order it click here.
Can’t You Get Enough Vitamin D From Sunshine?
According to Michael Klaper, M.D., if you’re at a latitude south of Atlanta, Georgia, and you’re outdoors in the summertime when the sun is bright and high in the sky, 20 minutes of sunlight on your face, arms, hands or back twice weekly can theoretically create adequate amounts of vitamin D.
However, many factors can foil this mechanism, including cloud cover, smog, increasing age of skin, sunscreen (which effectively stops vitamin D production), and skin color. (Darker pigmentation of skin lengthens the time needed for vitamin D production.)
That said, most people today spend their days inside buildings and clothed. So vitamin D levels are low in most populations.
TRADE-OFF ALERT: Spending more than 20 minutes out in the sun without sunscreen increases aging and cracking of the skin.
Our ancient ancestors, who spent their lives in the African sunshine with little or no clothing, had no problem making enough vitamin D. Their skin also undoubtedly showed the weathering and leathering that such a lifestyle produces.
But they likely did not care about the cosmetic appearance of their sun-blasted skin, and probably died long before skin cancer or melanoma would have developed.
People who live in sunny climates today have to face the same trade-off, and most actively avoid overexposure to the sun.
That’s why even people in Florida (and similar climates) are often deficient in vitamin D. People living in northern latitudes have less to fear from sun exposure, but they also make a lot less vitamin D in their skin.
As a Mastery Program student, you’ll get access to the rest of our Vitamin D lesson, plus a 1-hour Q&A call on the topic. And this is just one of the 50 weekly lessons you’ll receive!
“I’ve been a vegan/macrobiotic cookbook author, food coach and speaker for 37 years. Yet I continue refining my understanding of nutrition, thanks to the broad range of experts Trevor brings to the Q&A calls. My interest in sprouting and juicing has been renewed, and the insights shared on bone health and Vitamins D and B12 have been revelatory.”
– Meredith McCarty, Mill Valley, CA
Why remain vulnerable to vitamin or mineral deficiencies when you can find out exactly how to eat and absorb enough calcium, iron, Omega 3s, and Vitamins A, B12, and D?
Just one oversight or deficiency — if ignored for too long — can leave you vulnerable to disease, and potentially thousands in doctor or dental bills. Why take that gamble when you can thrive on a vegan or vegetarian diet now and for the rest of your life?
To see the curriculum and testimonials, and get the first three Mastery Program lessons for just a penny…
If you enroll by the deadline at the top of this page, you’ll also get four bonus ebooks.
Tags: Algae, Breakfast Cereals, Byproducts, Cheerios, Clincher, Cow Skin, Cows, Dairy Products, Food And Nutrition, Food Manufacturers, Institute Of Medicine, Iu, Kix, Lacto Vegetarians, Mcg, Milk Yogurt, Molecule, Mushrooms, Nutrition Board, Omnivores, Orange Juice, Pig Skin, Sheep Wool, Tropicana Juice, Ultraviolet Rays, Vegans, Vitamin D Source, Vitamin D2, Vitamin D3