Sustainable, Animal-Free Vitamin D and Where to Find It
Some background on Vitamin D:
Vitamin D is one of the most crucial vitamins present in the body. Even though it is considered a vitamin, it also plays the role of a hormone. Vitamin D regulates calcium and phosphate levels in the body, which allows it to aid in bone metabolism (creation and breakdown), protein production and gene regulation -- all of which are essential processes in maintaining proper body function. Proper vitamin D levels are also very important for a healthy immune system, digestion and positive mental health. More on vitamin D can be read here!
However, the body cannot produce it on its own - we need to ingest or absorb precursor vitamin D (also known as Vitamin D3 or D2) in order to create usable vitamin D.
There are a few sources of vitamin D:
- Mostly liver and red meats
- Especially from fish such as tinned sardines, herring and cod
- Sea moss and lichen, mushrooms, leafy greens, fortified alternative milks and cereals
- Terraseed uses reindeer lichen (not from reindeer -- this is a lichen variety) in their vegan supplement for optimal levels of vegan friendly vitamin D3
- Plant based sources of vitamin D can be in both vitamin D2 and D3 forms -- which need to be converted in the body. However, when compared to Vitamin D2 (precursor found in animal sources) vitamin D3 is more likely to raise vitamin D levels in the blood!
- These algae species can synthesize vitamin D3 by reacting with the UV light from the sun. Which brings us to the next source…
- Vitamin D can be synthesized by UV rays being absorbed in the body. This is an excellent, sustainable way to get your Vitamin D, but it can be impossible if you live in certain areas.
- If you live in latitudes above 40 degrees, you will not be able to synthesize vitamin D from sunlight. The UV rays are not strong enough to induce the reaction within the body. So, even if it feels as though you get a lot of sunshine, you may need to supplement.
So, what is sustainable, animal free vitamin D?
This would be the vitamin D sources that come from plants -- such as mushrooms, lichen, sea moss, algae -- fortified milk and cereals, leafy greens, and sunlight. Many plant sources actually contain vitamin D3, which is the most effective form in raising blood levels of vitamin D. Mushrooms and some types of lichens are particularly high in D3, because they react with sunrays to synthesize vitamin D3 that we later consume!
- Sunshine is the most sustainable, as it does not require any resource sequestering, but it is not available to everyone. The amount of Vitamin D from UV rays you can absorb is directly related to your location in the world. Living at certain latitudes can eliminate your ability to create vitamin D from the sun.
- The next sustainable sources are mushrooms and lichens/sea moss. They are naturally occurring and are plentiful. These sources produce vitamin D3 by reacting with sunlight, which is not bioavailable for humans -- meaning it needs to be converted to vitamin D in the body.