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The Vitamin D Superfood for Vegetarians and Vegans

By January 27, 2017Food, Nutrition
morel mushrooms vitamin d

Our bodies evolved to make vitamin D from UV rays.  As a result, there are virtually no foods which contain vitamin D.  These vitamin D foods mostly include certain fatty fish.  However, there is one great source of vitamin D for vegetarians and vegans: mushrooms.  

 

Mushrooms as a Vegan Source of Vitamin D

Don’t think that you can eat just any ol’ mushroom from the supermarket and get your vitamin D.  Most mushrooms only contain a negligible amount of vitamin D.  For example, you’d have to eat about 6 ¼ pounds of white button mushrooms per day to meet the RDA for vitamin D.

 

Vitamin D Content of Mushrooms (per 84 gram serving)

Mushroom Type Vitamin D Amount (IU) % RDA
White, raw 6 1%
Crimini, raw 3 <1%
Oyster, raw 24 4%
Portabella, raw 8 1.3%
Shiitake, raw 15 2.5%
Enoki, raw 4 <1%
Maitake, raw 943 157%
Morel, raw 173 29%
Chanterelle, raw 178 30%

 

Why do maitake, chanterelle, and morel mushrooms have so much vitamin D and the others virtually none?  It is because these mushrooms are grown and harvested in the wild where they have exposure to sunlight.

Just like us, mushrooms are also able to convert UV rays into vitamin D.  Most commercially-sold mushrooms are grown indoors, so they were never exposed to daylight and able to produce vitamin D. 

*You can buy organic maitake mushrooms here.

morel mushrooms vitamin d

These morel mushrooms are a great source of vitamin D because they were grown outdoors.

 

UV-Exposed Mushrooms as a Source of Vitamin D

Some manufacturers have started exposing their mushrooms to UV lights for about 10-15 seconds after harvesting.  This gets the mushrooms’ natural vitamin D production going.  The result is a huge increase in vitamin D content.  For example, in the USA, the brand Monterey makes “Vitamin D Mushrooms.”  These white mushrooms contain 400 IU of vitamin D per serving compared to just 6 IU in white mushrooms which weren’t exposed to UV rays.

There may be other brands who are exposing their mushrooms to UV lights, but you don’t see it advertised frequently, leaving you to guess at the vitamin D levels of the mushrooms you buy.

monterey vitamin d mushrooms

 

Vitamin D Supplements for Vegans

The prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in the United States about 41.6%, so this is something we should all probably be worried about! If you aren’t spending a lot of time outdoors with bare skin or eating wild-grown mushrooms, then you might want to consider a vitamin D supplement.  When choosing vitamin D supplements, remember that the vitamin D2 is always vegan, and vitamin D3 is usually from animals.  However, the D3 form of the vitamin is better absorbed, so try to choose a vegan D3.  Here are some good options.

*Read more about vegan vitamin D here, including why we need it and the difference between vitamin D2 and D3.

1. MRM Vegan Vitamin D3
mrm vegan vitamin d3

5000IU; 60 count
Costs $10.71 – Buy Here

2. Country Life Vegan D3
country life vegan vitamin d3 capsules
5000IU; 60 count
Costs $15.29 – Buy Here

3. Source of Life Garden Organic Vegan D3
source of life garden vegan vitamin d3
5000IU; 60 count
Costs $14.25 – Buy Here

Author Diane Vukovic

Diane Vukovic is a vegan mom, health nut, and kitchen diva. When she's not deducing veggie nutritional facts, she's probably dancing crazily with her daughter or traveling somewhere in Europe.

More posts by Diane Vukovic
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