Vitamin D may not be a concern for you if you live in Florida, but here in the Pacific Northwest it's near impossible to get enough vitamin D from the sun half of the year. That's why I supplement, and I recommend you do the same if you live in a climate like mine (or your line of work keeps you indoors).
So, what happens if you're deficient in vitamin D? Here are just a few conditions caused by vitamin D deficiency, taken from a great article on NaturalNews:
- Seasonal Affective Disorder
- Increased risk of developing diabetes and cancer
Chances are fairly good you're deficient in vitamin D, especially if you're a vegan living in a northern climate and not currently supplementing. Take a look at at the staggering occurrence of vitamin D deficiency in the United States (taken from NaturalNews):
- 40% of the U.S. population
- 76% of pregnant mothers
- 32% of doctors and med school students
- Up to 60% of all hospital patients
- Up to 80% of nursing home patients
So, what can you do to prevent vitamin D deficiency? Spend time outdoors and soak up natural sunlight. If this isn't possible or you can't rely on the sun, you should supplement.
How much should you take? The currently recommended daily amount in the United States is 400 IU, although there is evidence to show this is far too low (see this article). Canadians are now told to take 1000 IU a day. My recommendation is to base it on the amount of sunlight you expect to receive that day. For example, I expect to receive virtually none here in Seattle today, so I'll be shooting for 1000 IU. If you expect to get a little, feel free to cut down your dosage. Also, I recommend spreading out your dosages. For example, I taken one vitamin D tablet in the morning and one in the evening.
Where can you get vegan vitamin D? Just remember that vitamin D3 is never vegan and vitamin D2 is always vegan. You can get some vitamin D from fortified soy milk, but I wouldn't rely on that alone because you'd have to drink the entire container just to get the current RDA (400 IU). Personally, I take Vegan D, made by VegLife. You can buy it here on Vegan Essentials or at any Whole Foods. Your local health food store may also carry it. I think I paid about $6.00 for a container of 100 tablets.