Top 10 Vitamin D Rich Foods for Vegetarians to Add in Diet

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Written by Hexahealth Care Team, last updated on 2 May 2023| min read
Top 10 Vitamin D Rich Foods for Vegetarians to Add in Diet

Quick Summary

Here are 3 short points about Vitamin D for vegetarians:

  • Vitamin D is a critical nutrient for the body, but vegetarians have limited sources of this nutrient.
  • Some food options for vegetarians can help them absorb enough vitamin D.
  • The following blog discusses the top 10 vitamin D-rich foods for vegetarians.

Vitamin D, one of the most critical nutrients for the body, is obtained from sources such as sunlight and diet. But not for vegetarians who only have limited sources of this nutrient. If you are a vegetarian, getting enough vitamin D through a diet can be challenging. Why, you ask? Because there are not many vitamin D foods for vegetarians.

Though not many, some food options for vegetarians can help them absorb enough vitamin D. The following blog discusses the top 10 vitamin D-rich foods for vegetarians. But before that, let’s understand some basics about vitamin D and its health benefits. Continue reading to learn more.

What is Vitamin D?

Vitamin D, or the sunshine vitamin, helps regulate calcium and phosphate in the body. It is needed to keep the teeth, bones, and muscles healthy. Furthermore, it supports the immune system and other bodily functions. The body produces vitamin D naturally when it gets exposed to sunlight.

Since many people cannot spend enough time in the sun due to busy schedules, they experience signs of vitamin D deficiency, such as pain, weariness, dizziness, etc. As a result, it becomes essential to take enough vitamin D-rich food to compensate for the lack of sun time.

There are also specific options for vitamin D foods for vegetarians in India to help them get the required amount of this nutrient.

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The Role of Vitamin D in the Body

Vitamin D is unique because it can be synthesised by the skin when exposed to sunlight. This vitamin is known for its vital role in promoting bone health, but its functions go beyond that. Vitamin D plays multiple important roles in the body, such as:

  1. Promoting Bone Health: It helps the body absorb calcium and phosphorus, which are crucial for building and maintaining strong bones. It also helps regulate bone growth and remodelling processes.
  2. Supporting Immune Function: Vitamin D modulates the immune system, helping to support the body's defence against infections and diseases.
  3. Aiding in Calcium Metabolism: Vitamin D helps regulate calcium metabolism in the body, promoting calcium absorption in the intestines and helping maintain appropriate calcium levels in the blood.
  4. Enhancing Muscle Function: Vitamin D is involved in the function of skeletal muscles and may help improve muscle strength and balance, particularly in older adults.
  5. Supports Mood and Mental Health: Vitamin D has been associated with mood regulation and mental health. Some studies suggest that it may play a role in reducing the risk of depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders.
  6. Supports Pregnancy and Infant Health: Vitamin D is crucial during pregnancy, as it helps support foetal bone development and overall growth.
    Adequate vitamin D levels during pregnancy may reduce the risk of complications like gestational diabetes and preeclampsia. It is also essential for infant health, supporting proper bone development and immune function in newborns.

Recommended Levels of Vitamin D

The daily recommended amount of vitamin D depends on the age of an individual. For more than 97% of the people, an average intake of 400 to 800 IU (10 to 20 mcg) is enough. The recommended levels of vitamin D based on age are as follows:

Age Recommended Level
Infants (0 to 12 months) 400 IU (10 mcg)
1 to 70 years old 600 IU (15 mcg)
Adults above 70 800 IU (20 mcg)

Vitamin D Foods Vegetarian List

The most common problem with getting enough vitamin D is that only some foods contain this nutrient, most of which are animal products. Therefore, getting vitamin D from the diet becomes extremely difficult, especially if an individual is a vegetarian.

However, there are some vitamin D foods for vegetarians that one must check out. The following are the top 10 vitamin D-rich foods for vegetarians.

  1. Mushrooms
    Few people know that mushrooms are the single-most non-animal source containing sufficient vitamin D when grown in sunlight. While animal products contain vitamin D-3, mushrooms contain vitamin D-2.
    Even though vitamin D-2 is not as bioavailable as vitamin D-3, it can still raise vitamin D levels. Mushrooms grown in the dark may not include enough vitamin D. When exposed to ultraviolet light, mushrooms may provide 450 IU per 100 grams.
  2. Soy Products
    Soy products are next on the list of vitamin D food sources for vegetarians. Though soy products like tofu and soy chunks are relatively new in India, they have been extremely popular in Western countries as a vitamin D source for a long time.
    These products are increasingly gaining popularity due to their richness in protein, calcium, and vitamin D. Tofu offers around 100 IU (2.5 mcg) of vitamin D per 100 grams.
  3. Cheese
    Naming vitamin D foods for vegetarians and not mentioning cheese? Not possible! Cheese is a natural, vegetarian source of vitamin D, but in small amounts. Most types of cheese offer 24 IU (0.6 mcg) in 50 grams of serving.
    Cottage cheese is the best option for vitamin D. Others like Monterey, Fontina, and Cheddar cheeses also have good amounts of vitamin D. Some types of cheese may also be fortified with vitamin D.
  4. Fortified Cereals
    Several breakfast cereals and brands of oatmeal and muesli are fortified with vitamin D, making them a good option for vitamin D-rich foods for vegetarians.
    The vitamin D levels found in fortified cereals vary between different brands. The value is usually listed in the nutritional information of the product. Generally, fortified cereals contain 8 to 100 IU (0.2 to 2.5 mcg) of vitamin D per serving. 
  5. Dairy Products
    Several dairy products, such as yoghurt and milk, are fortified with vitamin D. By consuming these dairy products, one can fulfil the vitamin D requirements of the body.
    Yoghurt fortified with vitamin D gives about 52 IU (1.3 mcg) of vitamin D per 100 grams. Fortified cow milk can contain up to 120 IU (3 mcg) of vitamin D in 1 cup. 
  6. Alternative Milk Products
    While dairy products are rich in vitamin D sources, several milk alternatives also provide much-needed vitamin D levels.
    Alternative milk like fortified almond milk, rice milk, and soy milk are good vitamin D food sources for vegetarians who are allergic to dairy or do not want to consume dairy products.
    One cup of fortified (increasing the nutritional value of a food by adding vitamins and minerals) soy milk includes about 116 IU (2.9 mcg) of vitamin D. Fortified almond milk and rice milk contain about 96 IU (2.4 mcg) of vitamin D per serving. 
  7. Fortified Orange JuiceOrange juice does not naturally include vitamin D. However, when fortified, orange juice is one of the best vitamin D3 foods for vegetarians. It may contain up to 100 IU (2.5 mcg) of vitamin D per serving.
    Not all brands fortify their orange juices with vitamin D. But the ones that do generally mention that on the packaging.  
  8. Fruits
    Fruits are vitamin D-rich foods vegetarians can have to get an adequate supply of this nutrient. Add fruits like oranges and bananas to the diet plan to get the daily levels of vitamin D.
    Oranges are rich in calcium and vitamin D. Bananas are another option for vitamin D as they are a great source of magnesium that activates vitamin D in the body. 
  9. Vegetables
    When one says vegetarians, one should immediately imagine vegetables. Can’t think of vegetarians without vegetables, right?
    Although not many vegetables produce high vitamin D levels as other food options, one can incorporate some vegetables into one’s meal plan. Leafy greens, like spinach, are good options for vitamin D foods for vegetarians. 
  10. Margarine
    Margarine, a substitute for butter, is a blend of oils made of unsaturated fat. Butter is usually not fortified with vitamin D. On the other hand, many brands of margarine fortify the product with this nutrient.
    One can get around 20 IU (0.5 mcg) of vitamin D in one tablespoon of margarine.

Alternative Sources for Vitamin D

Now that you know which foods contain vitamin D for vegetarians, there are also other sources through which vegetarians can get their daily supply of this crucial nutrient. Some of the best sources besides vitamin D foods for vegetarians include:

  1. Exposure to Sunlight: Sunshine is vegetarians' most essential and freely available vitamin D source.
    One can easily get the required amount of vitamin D by spending just 10 to 20 minutes in sunlight every day, especially in the early morning when the sunlight is almost free of harmful ultraviolet rays.
  2. Supplements: Vegetarians can also increase their vitamin D levels by taking supplements. Supplements are a consistent and reliable source of vitamin D. They come in two forms: Vitamin D2 and D3.
    Since vitamin D is fat-soluble, eating these supplements with fatty foods increases the nutrient’s absorption. However, consult the doctor before taking supplements, as too much vitamin D can be harmful.

Things to Remember while consuming Vitamin D Rich Foods

Eating foods that are rich in vitamin D can help prevent vitamin D deficiency and maintain good overall health. However, it is important to remember a few things while consuming vitamin D-rich foods.

  1. Know Your Vitamin D Needs: The recommended daily intake of vitamin D varies depending on age, sex, and other factors. For most adults, 600 to 800 IU of vitamin D per day is sufficient.
    However, some people may require more. Consult with your healthcare provider to determine the right amount of vitamin D you need.
  2. Choose the Right Foods: Some of the best food sources of vitamin D include fatty fish, such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel, and fortified foods such as milk, yoghurt, and cereal. Other sources include egg yolks and mushrooms.
    Choose foods that are high in vitamin D and fit your dietary preferences.
  3. Watch Your Portion Sizes: While vitamin D-rich foods are healthy, they can also be high in calories. It is important to watch your portion sizes, especially if you are trying to maintain or lose weight.
  4. Consider Supplements: If you are unable to consume enough vitamin D through diet alone, you may need to take supplements. Speak with your healthcare provider to determine the right vitamin D supplement dosage for you.
  5. Don't Forget About Other Nutrients: Vitamin D works in conjunction with other nutrients, such as calcium and magnesium, to maintain good health. Eating a well-balanced diet that includes a variety of nutrient-rich foods is important for overall health.

Lifestyle Changes

Vitamin D is essential for good health, and consuming Vitamin D-rich foods is one way to ensure you're getting enough of this nutrient. However, simply incorporating these foods into your diet may not be enough.

There are certain lifestyle changes you can make to maximize the benefits of Vitamin D and improve its absorption in your body.

  1. Get Adequate Sun Exposure: Sun exposure is the best way to obtain Vitamin D naturally. Your body synthesizes Vitamin D when your skin is exposed to sunlight.
    Spend some time outdoors during the day, particularly during the early morning or late afternoon when the sun is not too harsh.
  2. Maintain a Healthy Weight: Being overweight or obese may hinder your body's ability to use Vitamin D efficiently. Research shows that people with higher body mass indexes have lower levels of Vitamin D in their blood.
  3. Quit Smoking: Smoking can reduce your body's ability to absorb Vitamin D, as well as many other essential nutrients. Quitting smoking can improve your overall health and increase the absorption of Vitamin D.
  4. Exercise Regularly: Exercise helps improve Vitamin D metabolism in the body. Regular exercise, particularly weight-bearing exercises, can help increase bone density and prevent osteoporosis.
  5. Reduce Alcohol Consumption: Excessive alcohol consumption can reduce your body's ability to absorb Vitamin D. It can also lead to liver damage, which can hinder the production of Vitamin D.

When to Consult a Doctor?

Vitamin D is a vital nutrient, a lack of which can cause several serious complications. It can be challenging to pinpoint a vitamin D deficiency, as the symptoms may appear after months or years.

Sometimes, you may have vitamin D deficiency with no symptoms at all. Generally, you should consult a doctor if you have risk factors of vitamin D deficiency or experience possible symptoms, such as:

  1. Muscle pain
  2. Bone pain
  3. Fatigue
  4. Recurring infections
  5. Low moods
  6. Hair loss
  7. Impaired wound healing
  8. Weight gain
  9. Dizziness
  10. Sleeping problems
  11. Sweaty head
  12. Reduced cognitive function

Takeaway

If you eat a vegetarian diet, getting vitamin D can be challenging. While there are limited vitamin D foods for vegetarians, you can add the available ones to your diet to get the most use of this nutrient. Fortified cereals, mushrooms, dairy products, and milk replacements are some of the best vitamin D food sources for vegetarians. Besides food, you can expose your skin to sunlight for 10-20 minutes daily or take vitamin D supplements to boost your levels.

If you experience any vitamin D deficiency symptoms, it’s time to consult a doctor. Our team at HexaHealth has experienced professionals to help you get the right amount of vitamin D for your body. If you have vitamin D deficiency that has led to further complications, we will help you connect with the best doctors for the right treatment. To know more about vitamin D-rich veg food, contact us TODAY!

Frequently Asked Questions

Vitamin D foods for vegetarians help them get vitamin D for their bodies. The sunshine nutrient helps your body absorb calcium and phosphorus from food (the minerals essential for maintaining healthy bones). Without vitamin D, people can develop a high risk of weak and brittle bones.

The top 10 vitamin D-rich foods for vegetarians include:

  1. Mushrooms
  2. Soy products
  3. Cheese
  4. Fortified cereals
  5. Dairy products
  6. Alternative milk
  7. Fortified orange juice
  8. Fruits
  9. Vegetables
  10. Margarine
Options for vitamin D foods for vegetarians in India are limited. Therefore, getting enough vitamin D from diet alone can be challenging for vegetarians. To get an adequate supply of this nutrient, vegetarians should soak up sunlight daily and take supplements and vitamin D-rich veg food.

While dairy products are good vitamin D sources for vegetarians, some non-dairy sources are available for people allergic to dairy products.

Some non-dairy vitamin D food sources for vegetarians include soy milk, rice milk, almond milk, soy products, fortified cereals, mushrooms, fortified orange juice, fruits, and vegetables.

Although few, some vitamin D foods for vegetarians can help them get the required amount of vitamin D. These foods include mushrooms, cheese, dairy products, soy products, fortified cereals, etc. Vegetarians must also spend 10-20 minutes in the sun daily and eat supplements to reach the recommended vitamin D levels.
Yes, mushrooms are the best, and the only non-animal source that contains an adequate amount of vitamin D. While mushrooms grown in the dark may not contain sufficient vitamin D, the ones exposed to ultraviolet light may provide up to 450 IU of vitamin per 100 grams serving.

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble nutrient that helps the body to absorb magnesium, calcium, and phosphate (essential for bone development. The health benefits of vitamin D include boosting immunity, supporting heart health, controlling diabetes, curbing the growth of cancer cells, etc.

Since vitamin D is found in only a few veg food options, vegetarians usually have low levels and need to get it from other sources to benefit from this nutrient.

Vegetarians are usually at a higher risk of vitamin D deficiency due to their lack of intake of animal products rich in this vitamin.

Vitamin D deficiency can cause problems for vegetarians, such as hypocalcemia (low blood calcium levels), hypophosphatemia (low blood phosphate levels), rickets (softening of bones in children), and osteomalacia (softening of bones in adults).

There is no specific vitamin D intake recommendation for vegetarians. They should meet the recommendations set out for the general population. People between 1 to 70 years of age should consume 600 IU (15 mcg) of vitamin D daily. Adults above 70 years should consume 800 IU (20 mcg) of vitamin D daily.

Some recipes with vitamin D-rich vegetarian foods include:

  1. Fat-free spinach soup
  2. Mushroom brown rice bowl
  3. Cinnamon roll steel-cut oatmeal
  4. Yoghurt parfait
  5. Fruits with creamy tofu sauce
Two types of vitamin D supplements are available in the market: ergocalciferol (vitamin D2) and cholecalciferol (vitamin D3). Ergocalciferol is commonly considered suitable for vegetarians and vegans. However, you must consult your doctor before taking any vitamin D supplements.

References

All the articles on HexaHealth are supported by verified medically-recognized sources such as; peer-reviewed academic research papers, research institutions, and medical journals. Our medical reviewers also check references of the articles to prioritize accuracy and relevance. Refer to our detailed editorial policy for more information.


  1. 6 Good Sources of Vitamin D for Vegetarians - Healthlinelink
  2. The Best Vegan Sources of Vitamin D - Healthlinelink

Updated on : 2 May 2023

Disclaimer: The information provided here is for educational and learning purposes only. It doesn't cover every medical condition and might not be relevant to your personal situation. This information isn't medical advice, isn't meant for diagnosing any condition, and shouldn't replace talking to a certified medical or healthcare professional.

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