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Vitamin D is a vital nutrient that imparts calcium, phosphorus and other minerals to improve your bone health. Other important benefits of Vitamin D are improved immune system, lower levels of diabetes, energy boost and more. This fat-soluble nutrient is often referred to as the ‘sunshine vitamin’ because of its ability to produce itself in the body when exposed to the Sun. Vitamin D is also found naturally in dietary supplements like fish, egg, meat and dairy products. However, vegetarians are at risk of Vitamin D deficiencies due to the limited food options available. Refer to our list of vitamin D foods for vegetarians to stay enriched and healthy.
Vitamin D Foods For Vegetarians
The only plant-based source of Vitamin D is mushrooms. Protobello, maitake, morel, button and shiitake mushrooms are all infused with a high content of Vitamin D. Wild mushrooms grown under sunlight are the most enriched variety. 100 gms of mushrooms are packed with 2300 IU of Vitamin D. You can add it raw in salads or cooked as a part of various main dishes.
Other nutrients found in mushrooms are riboflavin, folate, thiamine, pantothenic acid, niacin and Vitamin B.
2. Orange Juice
The pulp of oranges can be used to make fortified orange juice, which is rich in Vitamin D and calcium. These work together to improve your bone structure and strength. 1 cup of orange juice is usually infused with 142 IU of Vitamin D. You can add the juice to your daily breakfast or lunch.
Orange juice is also packed with other nutrients like Vitamin C, folate and potassium.
3. Fortified Cereals And Oatmeal
Vitamin D can be fortified into certain cereals and instant oatmeal to boost your intake of nutrients. Its high-fibre content supports the absorption of vitamins. ½ a cup of cereals or oatmeal is enough to give away 55 to 154 IU of Vitamin D. All you need to do is mix it with milk and have it as your breakfast.
Cereals and oatmeal are also enriched with other nutrients like manganese, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, Vitamin B1 and more.
Tofu is a power-packed vegetable protein that is made using the plant soybeans. It is not just rich in Vitamin D but also incorporates a high content of calcium to improve the strength of your bones and muscles. 100 gms of tofu can serve up to 39% of your daily intake of Vitamin D. Tofu can be consumed raw in salads and sandwiches or can be seared, grilled or baked to form various side dishes.
Tofu also contains essential amino acids, iron, manganese, selenium, vitamin B1 and more such nutrients.
5. Cow Milk
Cow milk is one of the healthiest Vitamin D veg sources. It can be fortified with nutrients like calcium, phosphorus, riboflavin and vitamin D. 8 ounces of cow milk usually contains 100 IU of Vitamin D. You can add a medium-sized glass of cow milk to your breakfast every day.
The same can also impart other nutrients like calcium, phosphorus, riboflavin, vitamin A, saturated fat, protein and carbohydrates.
6. Cheddar Cheese
Cheddar Cheese is a taste-filled option of Vitamin D for vegetarians. It is not just a great source of vitamins but is also enriched with minerals like calcium and zinc. 100 gms of cheddar cheese is good enough to attain 24 IU of Vitamin D. Cheddar cheese is a diverse ingredient that can be used in multiple ways in your daily diet. You can use it as a garnish on salads and sandwiches or have it raw in Italian dishes.
Having cheddar cheese also offers the benefits of nutrients like Vitamin A, riboflavin, phosphorus, zinc and selenium.
Margarine is a butter substitute made from vegetable oils. It is sufficiently loaded with Vitamin D, A, K and E. One tablespoon of margarine can cover 15% of your daily intake of Vitamin D. You can replace butter and use margarine as a spread for flavouring, baking and cooking.
Other nutrients found in margarine are Omega-3 fatty acids and alpha-lineolic acid.
Fortified yoghurt can enhance the intake of Vitamin D in your diet. Yoghurt is also a highly nutritious source of Vitamin B and some vital minerals. 8 ounces of yoghurt can induce 100 IU of Vitamin D in your body. You can have yoghurt as a side to your regular meals, use it to prepare other dishes or have it as milk.
Yoghurt also contains other nutrients like calcium, potassium and protein.
How Much Is Good?
The Recommended Dietary Allowance is a reflection of how much of each vitamin should be consumed each day. This index may vary with age, gender and body type. Following are the suggested dosage of the same considering minimal sun exposure:
Below 12 years: 400 IU
1-70 years: 600 IU
Above 70 years: 800 IU
Severe cases of Vitamin D deficiency can lead to softening of bones and diseases like rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults. Other conditions that follow lack of Vitamin D are low blood levels, cardiovascular diseases, cognitive impairment and asthma in children.
You must not ignore any signs that may indicate a deficiency of Vitamin D. Some of its common symptoms are listed as follows:
- Muscle weakness
- Bone pain
- Weaker Immunity
- Impaired wound healing
- Hair loss
Vitamin D is not just a stimulator of bone strength but also aids in the regulation of cell growth to keep you fit and healthy. The best way vegetarians can intake adequate amounts of vitamin D is through a healthy diet and sufficient sun exposure. Vitamin D food sources for vegetarians are found naturally in mushrooms while fortified in various other products.