If there was one vitamin that since a young age was a concern for me, it was vitamin D. Being that we live in the midwest of the United States, we have 5+ very cold and sunless (for the most part) months making vitamin D hard to get. Not only that, I was following a vegetarian diet as a child which meant my food sources of vitamin D were limited. If you are in a similar boat or are raising a child on an animal-free diet, you might be wondering how to get vitamin D on a plant-based diet. In this post we will be talking about plant-based sources of vitamin D, how much vitamin d your kids should be getting daily, and vitamin D supplement options for kids and adults.
Why Do We Need Vitamin D
You have probably heard about the importance of having vitamin D in your diet but have you ever wondered why? According to the National Institutes of Health website, a reliable source for health information, vitamin D is important for much of your body’s typical function and health.
“Vitamin D is a nutrient you need for good health. It helps your body absorb calcium, one of the main building blocks for strong bones. Together with calcium, vitamin D helps protect you from developing osteoporosis, a disease that thins and weakens the bones and makes them more likely to break. Your body needs vitamin D for other functions too. Your muscles need it to move, and your nerves need it to carry messages between your brain and your body. Your immune system needs vitamin D to fight off invading bacteria and viruses.”– National Institutes of Health (NIH)
Vitamin D is very important for infants and adolescents so you may find your child’s pediatrician recommending vitamin D supplements. It is especially important if your child is exclusively breastfed for a long period of time. If you fall into this category and you are concerned about vitamin D for your breastfeeding child, please talk to your OBGYN or child’s pediatrician so they can assess your specific situation.
How Much Vitamin D Do You Need
The amount of vitamin D depends on your age and is measured in micrograms or IU’s (International units). National Institutes of Health shares a convenient chart that can be found here but I will also share the information below.
- Birth to 12 months – 10 mcg (400 IU)
- Children 1 to 13 years – 15 mcg (600 IU)
- Teens 14 to 18 years – 15 mcg (600 IU)
- Adults 19 to 70 years – 15 mcg (600 IU)
- Adults 71 years and older – 20 mcg (800 IU)
- Pregnant and breastfeeding teens and women – 15 mcg (600 IU)
If you have specific questions about how much vitamin D you or your child need, contact your primary care physician (PCP) or another medical professional and they can best guide you and your specific needs.
What To Do If You Don’t Think You’re Getting Enough Vitamin D
If you are concerned that you or your children are not getting enough vitamin D, reach out to the appropriate primary care doctor. Your doctor will be able to assist you in getting a blood test, supplementing correctly, and answering your questions.
Having a true vitamin D deficiency can be quite problematic so take any concern you have around your vitamin D seriously. I found this resource from NIH that you may also find helpful.
How Do You Get Enough Vitamin D on a Plant-Based Diet
First things first, if you are able, I highly encourage you get annual blood work, especially for those on a plant-based diet, so you can see where you stand on important nutrients (iron, B12, vitamin D, protein, etc) and other key factors of health. You can request this from your PCP and it’s a great way to annually assess how you are doing with your nutrition.
When it comes to vitamin D, if you are on a plant-based diet, sources are limited without supplementation. You can obtain vitamin D through fortified products like soymilk and other plant milk alternatives, some fortified beverages, packaged cereals, and some mushrooms (which have a very small amount). All other sources of vitamin d are animal-based so those are out for most of us. For many people, this means supplementation is necessary.
To help make the process a little easier, I’m going to share some products that are fortified with vitamin D as well as supplement options that we have used and loved over the years. If you know of other great sources of plant-based vitamin D, share in the comments!
Products Fortified in Vitamin D
- Orgain Protein Almond Milk (a great source of protein and 15% DV of vitamin D)
- Silk Soymilk (all varieties including the chocolate milk personal-sized cartons!)
- Orange Juice fortified with vitamin D (Brands include Tropicana, Simply Orange, Florida’s Natural)
- Good Karma Flaxmilk with Flaxseed and Protein
- Some varieties of Kellogg Cereal
Vitamin D Supplement Options For Kids
- Toddler Vitamin D3 and K2 Liquid Drops
- Vitamin D3 Gummy (vegan, gluten-free, non-gmo)
- Vegan D3 + K2 Spray (We use this one for all of us and it’s great!)
- Garden of Life Vitamin D
Many of these products above can be used for children and adults. Pay close attention to the dosage amount to be sure you and your child are receiving the correct amount. And remember, this is obviously not an exhaustive list of options that are available. There are many more options in the stores so next time you are at the market, check out the supplements to see what they offer.
The Importance of Sunshine: The Ultimate Plant-Based Source of Vitamin D
Vitamin D is something that our body can naturally produce when the sun’s rays hit our skin. Spending short amounts of time in the sun is important for this very reason. Those with light skin should spend at least 15 minutes in the sun each day whereas those with darker skin should spend a couple of hours in the sun. (source)
If you live in a colder climate where sunlight is less available in the winter months you may notice you spend little to no time in the sun. During these months you may find it extra important to supplement.
On sunny days though, even in the frigid temps (which I personally dislike..), I highly recommend getting outside if you can handle it! Bundle up and let the sunshine hit your face. You will likely notice a difference in your mood that day.
Do you struggle with getting enough vitamin D? What vitamin d supplement options do you use for your kids?
MORE FROM REALISTIC PLANT-BASED MAMA: