A new study published yesterday confirmed what we have long known – that everybody should supplement vitamin D, not just vegans.
Living in the UK, we know all too well how rare it can be to see a ray of sunshine; and healthy sun exposure is one way of obtaining the nutrient but it may be particularly difficult to get enough in autumn and winter months.
A recent report shows that more than one in five people in the UK lack the nutrient, proving that it is the general population that suffers from low levels.
Public Health England said vitamin D supplements could spare more than three million people from infections and colds each year.
Heather Russell, our registered dietitian specialising in plant-based nutrition, said: “In the UK, it is recommended that everyone considers taking a vitamin D supplement during autumn and winter. This is because it is difficult to get enough dietary vitamin D from food.
“It is surprising that there haven’t been more discussions about food fortification after the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition’s report about vitamin D was published last year.”
The vital nutrient - which helps keep healthy bones, teeth and muscles – can be found in mushrooms as well as fortified cereal, plant milks and soy yogurts also contain some amounts.
Some products are fortified with vitamin D3, which is derived from animals. “It is important to consider the type of vitamin D carefully,” added Heather.
“Vitamin D3 from lichen and vitamin D2 are vegan-friendly. However, fortifying foods using vitamin D3 from lanolin makes them unsuitable for vegans; this is because lanolin comes from sheep’s wool.”
The Vegan Society’s own supplement VEG1 contains 20 micrograms of animal-free vitamin D3. Public Health England recommends at least 10 micrograms of vitamin D daily.