More and more you’ll hear people talk about the importance of getting your daily dose of vitamin D as the days grow shorter and colder. But did you know that following a plant-based lifestyle could put you even more at risk of not hitting your daily targets? Discover why you should make vegan vitamin D supplements a priority this winter.
Vitamin D Benefits
Vitamin D is an essential micronutrient that benefits your body in many ways. It helps to keep your bones and teeth strong and healthy, as well as your muscles functioning normally. Plus, it plays a part in your immune system, so it can to protect you against colds and keep you feeling your best.
The good news it’s easy to come by, but are natural sources enough?
It's widely known as the sunshine vitamin, however during winter months when you barely see daylight at all either side of your 9-5, this isn't always enough.
A healthy, balanced diet is always the first port of call when ensuring that your body is getting all the essential vitamins that it needs. However, as some of the best foods for vitamin D happen to be animal products such as cheese, eggs, and fish — it can be a little harder for vegans to make sure they're hitting their daily requirements from diet alone.
Vegan Vitamin D Sources
So, as previously mentioned, even though the sun is a great natural source of this vitamin (and definitely vegan-friendly), it's not always enough.
Vegan vitamin D supplements are therefore really valuable if you're following a plant-based diet, as they're a reliable and convenient way to keep on top of the nutrients your body needs. They're easy to make part of your routine and don't require any label-checking for non-vegan ingredients, or the effort of meal prep.
As well as supplements though, there are a few other plant-based foods that're fortified with the vitamin specifically with vegans in mind. These include most soy products like milk and tofu, some brands of orange juice, and some cereals.
How Much Vitamin D Do I Need?
To protect bone and muscle health, everyone needs vitamin D equivalent to an average daily intake of 10 micrograms. If you're unsure whether you're getting the right amount of vitamin D, then check out the following symptoms of vitamin D deficiency as these may be signs that you need more of it.
Vitamin D Deficiency
Change in Mood
Vitamin D has been associated with dopamine levels, a chemical linked to mood in the brain.
Sure, after exercise you’re bound to feel fatigue, but if you’re feeling excessively tired or weary when you haven’t been exercising, a lack of vitamin D may be the reason why.
Vitamin D is good for strengthening bones.
Because of its effect on your immune system, a lack of vitamin D could be a reason why you’re more susceptible to those bugs going around at work.
This doesn’t just apply for when you’ve been weightlifting — if you experience subtle to extensive pain in your muscles it may be from a vitamin D deficiency rather than lifting weights.
If your body temperature is at a normal level but you're sweating or glowing while maintaining a steady level of activity, a vitamin D test is advisable.
Vitamin D Research
Further to this, new research has since identified the relationship between vitamin D, sleep, and pain. The study, published in the Journal of Endocrinology, was carried out by researchers from the Department of Psychobiology at the Federal University of São Paulo in Brazil.
Evidence suggests that vitamin D plays a role in biological processes including sensory signals and sleep regulation. The research also concluded that vitamin D plays a big part in bone metabolism.
While pain is linked to interrupted sleep, it is still inconclusive how vitamin D affects pain. Two of the ways vitamin D supplements could potentially impact on your sensitivity to pain is by affecting your sleep, and via its role in countering inflammation.
In acting against inflammation, vitamin D stimulates the anti-inflammatory response produced by your immune cells. This reduces your sensitivity to pain, which can also help you to sleep better.
Since it's difficult for people to meet the 10 microgram recommendation from consuming foods naturally containing or fortified with vitamin D — especially if you're restricted to only vegan vitamin D sources — you should consider taking a daily supplement in autumn and winter.
Take Home Message
Vegans, if you’re concerned about whether or not you are getting the right amount of vitamin D, or have any of the aforementioned symptoms despite an otherwise healthy diet, our Vegan Vitamin D3 could give you the peace of mind knowing you're getting what your body needs in order to function and train effectively.