THE SUNSHINE VITAMIN
We hear so many things about what vitamins we need, what supplements are good for us etc. but when you are vegan those questions seem to increase tenfold. One thing a lot of people don't realize is that vitamin D is one of the most important vitamins for all of us regardless of whether or not you are vegan.
Vitamin D is responsible for helping us prevent many serious health conditions. There are downfalls to not getting any either which can turn up as complications down the road. Unfortunately, the majority of the people are not getting enough of it. As founded by HCPLive, "the main job of vitamin D is to keep the right amount of calcium and phosphorus in your blood these are the 2 nutrients that work together to make your bones strong. If you don't have vitamin D in your body, only a small amount of the calcium from your diet can be absorbed by your body, and only a little more than half of phosphorus is absorbed. Without enough calcium and phosphorus being absorbed in your body, your bones would become brittle and break easily." They have also concluded that even though vitamin D is able to be kept in our body fat until it is needed, however the issue is that it's not simple of a task to get an adequate vitamin D into your body. "Despite its name, vitamin D is not a vitamin, but actually a prohormone, or precursor of a hormone. Vitamins are nutrients that the body cannot create & so a person must consume them through their diet or absorb them naturally" according to Megan Ware, RDN, L.D.
BENEFITS OF VITAMIN D:
-Prevents fractures of the bones
-Reduces the risk of cancers: primarily colon, prostate cancer, and breast
-Reduce the risk of type 1 diabetes
-Protects against heart disease, high blood pressure & heart failure
-Reduces your risk for multiple sclerosis
-mood enhancer, reduces depression
-Improves lung function capabilities
-boosts weight loss
-prevents dental diseases, maintains strong teeth
-Supports immune, brain and nervous system health
So what’s the best way to get some vitamin D? It’s sunlight! As Ryan Raman, MS, RD says "When your skin is exposed to sunlight, it makes vitamin D from cholesterol. The sun's ultraviolet B (UVB) rays hit cholesterol in the skin cells, providing the energy for vitamin D synthesis to occur." For many of us it’s springtime & summer is right around the corner. That used to mean spending a lot more time outdoors but given the world’s current climate being able to do that isn’t as easy. If we can’t get sun time in we need to compensate with supplements or food. A lot of vitamin D rich foods are dairy or animal based. So as a vegan we need to make sure if we aren't in the sun as needed (10–30 minutes of midday sunlight, several times per week. People with darker skin may need a little more than this according to Raman) we are eating the foods that contain it.
SOURCES OF VITAMIN D FOR VEGANS:
Images via Sante D'Orazio, Tumblr
Words by Meg Vora