6 Good Sources of Vitamin D for Vegetarians
It helps your body absorb calcium and maintain adequate serum magnesium and phosphate concentrations — three nutrients important for your teeth, muscles, and bones. It also plays crucial roles in brain development, heart function, your immune system, and mental health.
Low vitamin D levels are widespread worldwide. Symptoms of deficiency include fatigue, muscle pain, weak bones, and — in children — stunted growth.
To maintain adequate levels, children under 12 months should get 400 IU (10 mcg) of vitamin D daily, while children 1–13 years old should get 600 IU (15 mcg) daily. Adults and pregnant or nursing women should aim for 600 and 800 IU (15 and 20 mcg) per day, respectively.
Yet, very few foods contain this vitamin, and those that do are mostly animal products. Thus, it can be difficult to get enough of this nutrient from your diet, particularly if you're vegetarian or vegan.
At the same time, a handful of foods and techniques can give you a boost.
Here are 6 good sources of vitamin D for vegetarians — some of which are suitable for vegans, too.
Your skin can produce vitamin D when exposed to the sun's ultraviolet B (UVB) rays. Most people get at least some of their vitamin D this way.
According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), exposing your face, arms, legs, or back to sunlight for 5–30 minutes twice a week — without sunscreen — is usually sufficient to generate optimal vitamin D levels.
However, depending on your geographical location or climate, it may not be practical to achieve this degree of direct sun exposure.
For instance, smog or an overcast day may reduce the strength of UV rays by up to 60%. Moreover, older adults and those with darker skin tones may require significantly longer than 30 minutes of sun exposure to produce sufficient vitamin D.
That said, excess sun exposure can increase your risk of skin cancer. Hence, the American Academy of Dermatology urges people not to rely on the sun as their main source of vitamin D.
Your skin produces vitamin D following direct exposure to the sun. However, several factors can reduce your body's vitamin D generation, and excess sun exposure isn't recommended, as it may raise your risk of skin cancer.
2. Certain Mushrooms
Mushrooms have the unique ability to make vitamin D when exposed to UV light. This makes them the only edible plant source of vitamin D.
For instance, wild mushrooms and those artificially exposed to UV light may boast anywhere between 154 and 1,136 IU (3.8 and 28 mcg) of vitamin D per 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving.
What's more, their vitamin D content remains high for the duration of their shelf life and appears to be as effective at raising levels of this vitamin in your body as vitamin D supplements.
When shopping, look for a note on the label mentioning vitamin D content. If you're having trouble finding mushrooms exposed to UV light, you may have better luck at your local health food store or farmers market — which often carry wild mushrooms.
Keep in mind that not all wild mushrooms are edible. Eating poisonous ones can cause symptoms ranging from mild indigestion to organ failure and even death. As such, you shouldn't forage for your own wild mushrooms unless you're expertly trained.
UV-exposed mushrooms contain varying levels of vitamin D and appear to be as effective at raising vitamin D levels as supplements. However, most conventionally grown mushrooms aren't exposed to UV rays and harbor very little of this vitamin.
3. Egg Yolks
Egg yolks provide vitamin D, though their specific amounts rely greatly on the chicken's diet and access to the outdoors.
For instance, eggs sourced from chickens fed vitamin-D-enriched feed can pack up to 6,000 IU (150 mcg) per yolk, whereas eggs from chickens given conventional feed contain only 18–39 IU (0.4–1 mcg).
Similarly, chickens allowed to roam outdoors are exposed to sunlight and typically lay eggs that boast 3–4 times more vitamin D than those of chickens raised indoors.
Free-range or organic eggs tend to have more vitamin D. The label may also indicate that the eggs are enriched with this nutrient.
Egg yolks can provide significant amounts of vitamin D, especially if the eggs are sourced from chicken given enriched feed or allowed to roam outdoors.
Cheese is a natural source of vitamin D, albeit in very small amounts.
Most varieties contain 8–24 IU (0.2–0.6 mcg) of vitamin D per 2-ounce (50-gram) serving. Levels vary based on the way the cheese is manufactured.
Fontina, Monterey, and Cheddar cheeses boast more, while mozzarella has less. Soft types like cottage, ricotta, or cream cheeses offer almost no vitamin D.
Some kinds can also be fortified with vitamin D, and this will be indicated on the label or ingredient list.
Cheese is a natural source of vitamin D, albeit in very small amounts. Cheddar, Fontina, and Monterey boast a little more.
5. Fortified Foods
Although some foods naturally contain small amounts of vitamin D, a variety of products are fortified with this nutrient. Although fortification standards vary by country, a few of these foods include:
- Cow's milk. Depending on the country you live in, you can expect 1 cup (240 ml) of milk to contain up to 120 IU (3 mcg) of vitamin D.
- Nondairy beverages. Plant milks like soy, rice, hemp, oat, or almond milk — plus orange juice — are often fortified with similar amounts of vitamin D as cow's milk. They may provide up to 100 IU (2.5 mcg) of vitamin D per 1 cup (240 ml).
- Yogurt. Some dairy and nondairy yogurts are fortified in vitamin D, giving around 52 IU (1.3 mcg) of this vitamin per 3.5 ounces (100 grams).
- Tofu. Not all tofus are fortified, but those that are offer around 100 IU (2.5 mcg) per 3.5 ounces (100 grams).
- Hot and cold cereals. Oatmeal and ready-to-eat cereals are often fortified with vitamin D, with 1/2 cup (120 grams) providing up to 120 IU (3 mcg), depending on the variety.
- Margarine. Unlike butter, which is not typically fortified with vitamin D, many brands of margarine add this nutrient. One tablespoon (14 grams) usually provides around 20 IU (0.5 mcg).
Due to inconsistent fortification standards between countries, checking a food's ingredient list or nutrition label remain the best way to verify whether it's fortified in vitamin D and how much it contains.
Numerous common foods and beverages, including dairy and nondairy milks, as well as some cereals, are fortified with vitamin D. Because standards vary between countries, it's best to read the label carefully.
If you're concerned you may not be getting enough vitamin D from your diet, supplements can act as a reliable and consistent source. These come in two forms:
- Vitamin D2: typically harvested from yeast or mushrooms exposed to UV rays
- Vitamin D3: usually derived from fish oil or sheep's wool, with vegan forms more recently developed from lichen
When taken in large doses of 50,000 IU (1,250 mcg) or more, vitamin D3 appears to be more effective at raising and maintaining high blood levels of vitamin D than D2.
Yet, when taken in smaller, daily doses, the advantage of D3 over D2 appears to be much smaller.
You can tell which type your supplement contains by reading the label. Most lichen-derived D3 supplements also add vegan certification.
Because vitamin D is fat-soluble, eating it with fatty foods may help increase its absorption.
Keep in mind that the Reference Daily Intake (RDI) is 400–800 IU (10–20 mcg), depending on factors like age and pregnancy. Exceeding this dosage for extended periods is not recommended, as it may cause toxicity.
Symptoms of vitamin D toxicity may include confusion, difficulty concentrating, depression, abdominal pain, vomiting, high blood pressure, hearing loss, psychosis, and —in extreme cases — kidney failure and coma.
Supplements are a reliable and consistent source of vitamin D. They're best consumed in combination with fatty foods and shouldn't be taken in amounts exceeding the RDI for extended periods.
The Bottom Line
Although vitamin D plays several crucial roles in your body, few foods naturally contain it — and vegetarian or vegan sources are especially sparse.
Spending time in the sunshine is a great way to boost your levels, but this isn't possible for everyone.
As such, you can try foods like wild mushrooms, egg yolks, or items enriched with vitamin D. Supplements are another option.
If you're concerned that you may have low levels of this vitamin, speak with your healthcare provider.
- Why You Need More Vitamin D in the Winter - EcoWatch ›
- 5 things you can do to make your microbiome healthier - EcoWatch ›
- 6 of the Healthiest Peanut Butters - EcoWatch ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Farmers are the stewards of our planet's precious soil, one of the least understood and untapped defenses against climate change. Because of its massive potential to store carbon and foundational role in growing our food supply, soil makes farming a solution for both climate change and food security.
Soil can act as a natural "carbon sink." Climate Central, 2019
- How Permaculture Is Helping Wildfire Survivors Recover - EcoWatch ›
- 17 Organizations Feeding and Healing the World Through ... ›
- Michael Pollan: It's Time to Put Carbon Back Into the Soil - EcoWatch ›
By Shelly Miller
The vast majority of SARS-CoV-2 transmission occurs indoors, most of it from the inhalation of airborne particles that contain the coronavirus. The best way to prevent the virus from spreading in a home or business would be to simply keep infected people away. But this is hard to do when an estimated 40% of cases are asymptomatic and asymptomatic people can still spread the coronavirus to others.
It’s All About Fresh, Outside Air<p>The safest indoor space is one that constantly has lots of <a href="https://www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality-iaq/how-does-outdoor-air-enter-building" target="_blank">outside air</a> replacing the stale air inside.</p><p>In commercial buildings, <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK143277/" target="_blank">outside air is usually pumped in</a> through heating, ventilating and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems. In <a href="https://www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality-iaq/how-does-outdoor-air-enter-building" target="_blank">homes, outside air gets in</a> through open windows and doors, in addition to seeping in through various nooks and crannies.</p><p>Simply put, the more fresh, outside air inside a building, the better. Bringing in this air dilutes any contaminant in a building, whether a virus or a something else, and <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1600-0668.2010.00703.x" target="_blank">reduces the exposure of anyone inside</a>. Environmental engineers like me quantify how much outside air is getting into a building using a measure called the <a href="https://doi.org/10.1038/jes.2013.30" target="_blank">air exchange rate</a>. This number quantifies the number of times the air inside a building gets replaced with air from outside in an hour.</p><p>While the exact rate depends on the number of people and size of the room, most experts consider roughly <a href="https://doi.org/10.1034/j.1600-0668.2002.01145.x" target="_blank">six air changes an hour</a> to be good for a 10-foot-by-10-foot room with three to four people in it. In a pandemic this should be higher, with one study from 2016 suggesting that an exchange rate of nine times per hour <a href="https://doi.org/10.1177%2F1420326X16631596" target="_blank">reduced the spread of SARS, MERS and H1N1</a> in a Hong Kong hospital.</p><p>Many buildings in the U.S., <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/ina.12403" target="_blank">especially schools</a>, do not meet recommended ventilation rates. Thankfully, it can be pretty easy to get more outside air into a building. Keeping <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/S0960-1481(99)00012-9" target="_blank">windows and doors open</a> is a good start. Putting a box fan in a window blowing out can greatly increase air exchange too. In buildings that don't have operable windows, you can change the mechanical ventilation system to increase how much air it is pumping. But in any room, the more people inside, the faster the air should be replaced.</p>
Using CO2 to Measure Air Circulation<p>So how do you know if the room you're in has enough air exchange? It's actually a pretty hard number to calculate. But there's an easy-to-measure proxy that can help. Every time you exhale, you <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/ina.12383" target="_blank">release CO2</a> into the air. Since the coronavirus is most often spread by breathing, coughing or talking, you can use <a href="https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/dd7e/b2870c38f70e5285e5118ed6f158c091f7cf.pdf" target="_blank">CO2 levels</a> to see if the room is filling up with potentially infectious exhalations. The CO2 level lets you estimate if enough fresh outside air is getting in.</p><p>Outdoors, CO2 levels are just above 400 parts per million (ppm). A well ventilated room will have around <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1600-0668.1999.00003.x" target="_blank">800 ppm of CO2</a>. Any higher than that and it is a sign the room might need more ventilation.</p><p>Last year, researchers in Taiwan reported on the <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/ina.12639" target="_blank">effect of ventilation on a tuberculosis outbreak</a> at Taipei University. Many of the rooms in the school were underventilated and had CO2 levels above 3,000 ppm. When engineers improved air circulation and got CO2 levels under 600 ppm, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/ina.12639" target="_blank">the outbreak completely stopped</a>. According to the research, the increase in ventilation was responsible for 97% of the decrease in transmission.</p><p>Since the coronavirus is spread through the air, higher CO2 levels in a room likely mean there is a <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/ina.12639" target="_blank">higher chance of transmission</a> if an infected person is inside. Based on the study above, I recommend trying to keep the CO2 levels below 600 ppm. You can buy <a href="https://doi.org/10.5194/amt-7-3325-2014" target="_blank">good CO2 meters</a> for around $100 online; just make sure that they are accurate to within 50 ppm.</p>
Air Cleaners<p>If you are in a room that can't get enough outside air for dilution, consider an air cleaner, also commonly called air purifiers. These machines remove particles from the air, usually using <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cap.2005.07.013" target="_blank">a filter</a> made of tightly woven fibers. They can <a href="https://shellym80304.files.wordpress.com/2020/06/miller-leiden-et-al-1996.pdf" target="_blank">capture particles containing bacteria and viruses</a> and can help reduce disease transmission.</p><p>The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says that <a href="https://www.epa.gov/coronavirus/air-cleaners-hvac-filters-and-coronavirus-covid-19" target="_blank">air cleaners can do this for the coronavirus</a>, but not all air cleaners are equal. Before you go out and buy one, there are few things to keep in mind.</p><p>The first thing to consider is <a href="https://shellym80304.files.wordpress.com/2020/06/air-cleaner-report.pdf" target="_blank">how effective an air cleaner's filter is</a>. Your best option is a cleaner that uses a high-efficiency particulate air (<a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/S0021-8502(05)80214-9" target="_blank">HEPA</a>) filter, as these remove more than <a href="https://doi.org/10.1063/1.2771421" target="_blank">99.97% of all particle sizes</a>.</p><p>The second thing to consider is how powerful the cleaner is. The bigger the room – or the more people in it – the more air needs to be cleaned. I worked with some colleagues at Harvard to put together a tool to help teachers and schools determine <a href="https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1NEhk1IEdbEi_b3wa6gI_zNs8uBJjlSS-86d4b7bW098/edit#gid=1275403500" target="_blank">how powerful of an air cleaner you need for different classroom sizes</a>.</p><p>The last thing to consider is the validity of the claims made by the company producing the air cleaner.</p><p>The Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers certifies air cleaners, so the AHAM Verifide seal is a good place to start. Additionally, the California Air Resources Board has a <a href="https://ww2.arb.ca.gov/our-work/programs/air-cleaners-ozone-products/california-certified-air-cleaning-devices" target="_blank">list of air cleaners</a> that are certified as safe and effective, though not all of them use HEPA filters.</p>
Keep Air Fresh or Get Outside<p>Both the <a href="https://www.who.int/news-room/commentaries/detail/transmission-of-sars-cov-2-implications-for-infection-prevention-precautions" target="_blank">World Health Organization</a> and <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/deciding-to-go-out.html" target="_blank">U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention</a> say that poor ventilation increases the risk of transmitting the coronavirus.</p><p>If you are in control of your indoor environment, make sure you are getting enough fresh air from outside circulating into the building. A CO2 monitor can help give you a clue if there is enough ventilation, and if CO2 levels start going up, open some windows and <a href="https://www.advisory.com/daily-briefing/2020/07/17/outdoor-gathering" target="_blank">take a break outside</a>. If you can't get enough fresh air into a room, an air cleaner might be a good idea. If you do get an air cleaner, be aware that they don't remove CO2, so even though the air might be safer, CO2 levels could still be high in the room.</p><p>If you walk into a building and it feels hot, stuffy and crowded, chances are that there is not enough ventilation. Turn around and leave.</p><p>By paying attention to air circulation and filtration, improving them where you can and staying away from places where you can't, you can add another powerful tool to your anti-coronavirus toolkit.</p>
- These Are Some of the Highest-Risk Places for COVID-19 - EcoWatch ›
- CDC Recommends Big Changes to Office Life - EcoWatch ›
- Here's Why COVID-19 Can Spread So Easily at Gyms and Fitness ... ›
- Kamala Harris Introduces Environmental Justice Bill in Senate ... ›
- Harris and AOC Introduce Climate Equity Act to Protect Frontline ... ›
The tiny island nation of Mauritius, known for its turquoise waters, vibrant corals and diverse ecosystem, is in the midst of an environmental catastrophe after a Japanese cargo ship struck a reef off the country's coast two weeks ago. That ship, which is still intact, has since leaked more than 1,000 metric tons of oil into the Indian Ocean. Now, a greater threat looms, as a growing crack in the ship's hull might cause the ship to split in two and release the rest of the ship's oil into the water, NPR reported.
On Friday, Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth declared a state of environmental emergency.
France has sent a military aircraft carrying pollution control equipment from the nearby island of Reunion to help mitigate the disaster. Additionally, Japan has sent a six-member team to assist as well, the BBC reported.
The teams are working to pump out the remaining oil from the ship, which was believed to be carrying 4,000 metric tons of fuel.
"We are expecting the worst," Mauritian Wildlife Foundation manager Jean Hugues Gardenne said on Monday, The Weather Channel reported. "The ship is showing really big, big cracks. We believe it will break into two at any time, at the maximum within two days. So much oil remains in the ship, so the disaster could become much worse. It's important to remove as much oil as possible. Helicopters are taking out the fuel little by little, ton by ton."
Sunil Dowarkasing, a former strategist for Greenpeace International and former member of parliament in Mauritius, told CNN that the ship contains three oil tanks. The one that ruptured has stopped leaking oil, giving disaster crews time to use a tanker and salvage teams to remove oil from the other two tanks before the ship splits.
By the end of Tuesday, the crew had removed over 1,000 metric tons of oil from the ship, NPR reported, leaving about 1,800 metric tons of oil and diesel, according to the company that owns the ship. So far the frantic efforts are paying off. Earlier today, a local police chief told BBC that there were still 700 metric tons aboard the ship.
The oil spill has already killed marine animals and turned the turquoise water black. It's also threatening the long-term viability of the country's coral reefs, lagoons and shoreline, NBC News reported.
"We are starting to see dead fish. We are starting to see animals like crabs covered in oil, we are starting to see seabirds covered in oil, including some which could not be rescued," said Vikash Tatayah, conservation director at Mauritius Wildlife Foundation, according to The Weather Channel.
While the Mauritian authorities have asked residents to leave the clean-up to officials, locals have organized to help.
"People have realized that they need to take things into their hands. We are here to protect our fauna and flora," environmental activist Ashok Subron said in an AFP story.
Reuters reported that sugar cane leaves, plastic bottles and human hair donated by locals are being sewn into makeshift booms.
Human hair absorbs oil, but not water, so scientists have long suggested it as a material to contain oil spills, Gizmodo reported. Mauritians are currently collecting as much human hair as possible to contribute to the booms, which consist of tubes and nets that float on the water to trap the oil.
- Disastrous Russian Oil Spill Reaches Pristine Arctic Lake - EcoWatch ›
- 15,000 Gallon Oil Spill Threatens River and Drinking Water in Native ... ›
- Source of Vast Oil Spill Covering Brazil's Northeast Coast Unknown ... ›
Environmentalists and ornithologists found a friend in a federal court on Tuesday when a judge struck down a Trump administration attempt to allow polluters to kill birds without repercussions through rewriting the Migratory Treaty Bird Act (MBTA).
- Trump Admin Moves to Weaken Restrictions on Killing Migratory Birds ›
- Migratory Birds Lose Protection Against Industry in Latest Trump ... ›
By Elizabeth Claire Alberts
There are trillions of microplastics in the ocean — they bob on the surface, float through the water column, and accumulate in clusters on the seafloor. With plastic being so ubiquitous, it's inevitable that marine organisms, such as sharks, will ingest them.
Polyproylene fibers found in one of the sampled sharks. Kristian Parton
Spiny dogfish. NOAA / Wikimedia Commons<p>"There appear to be two routes for these particles to end up in the sharks," Parton said. "The first through their food source [such as] crustaceans. Their prey may already contain these fibers, and consequently it's passed to the shark through bioaccumulation up the food chain. The second pathway is direct ingestion from the sediment. As these sharks feed, they'll often suck up sediment into their mouths, some of this is expelled straight away, although some is swallowed, therefore fibers and particles that may have sunk down into the seabed may be directly ingested from the surrounding sediment as these sharks feed."</p><p>Some sharks only contained a few plastic particles, but others contained dozens. The larger the shark, the more plastic was in it, the findings suggested. The highest number of microplastics was found in an individual bull huss, which had 154 polypropylene fibers inside its stomach and intestines.</p><p>"It's perhaps likely this individual shark had swallowed a larger piece of fishing rope/netting and this has broken down during digestive processes within the shark, and also broken down into smaller pieces during our analysis," Parton said.</p>
Lesser-spotted dogfish caught as bycatch. Kristian Parton<p>While this study only examined the stomach and digestive tracts of demersal sharks, Parton says it's possible that plastic would be present in other parts of the sharks' bodies, such as the liver and muscle tissue. However, more research would be needed to prove this.</p><p>At the moment, there is also limited understanding of how microplastic ingestion would impact a shark's health, although microplastics are known to negatively influence feeding behavior, development, reproduction and life span of zooplankton and crustaceans.</p><p>"If we can show that these fibers contain inorganic pollutants attached to them, then that could have real consequences for these shark species at a cellular level, impacting various internal body systems," Parton said.</p>
Parton in the lab. Kristian Parton<p>This new study demonstrates how pervasive and destructive plastic pollution can be in the marine environment, according to Will McCallum, head of oceans for Greenpeace U.K.</p><p>"Our addiction to plastics combined with the lack of mechanisms to protect our oceans is suffocating marine life," McCallum said in a statement. "Sharks sit on top of the marine food web and play a vital role in ocean ecosystems. Yet, they are completely exposed to pollutants and other human impactful activities. We need to stop producing so much plastic and create a network of ocean sanctuaries to give wildlife space to recover. The ocean is not our dump, marine life deserves better than plastic."</p>
- Pregnant Sperm Whale Found Dead With Nearly 50 Pounds of ... ›
- Green Turtles Are Mistaking Plastic for the Sea Grass They Normally ... ›
- Microplastics Pose Major Problems for Ocean Giants - EcoWatch ›
By Loveday Wright and Stuart Braun
After a Japanese-owned oil tanker struck a reef off Mauritius on July 25, a prolonged period of inaction is threatening to become an ecological disaster.
<div id="bb0a7" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="e5aefc0fff61ab1aea2f4b03c5399864"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1291765757013983238" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">The #oilspill is devastating but I want to honour the community mobilisation at the Mahebourg waterfront today (to… https://t.co/UWFkZFdjdi</div> — Fabiola Monty (@Fabiola Monty)<a href="https://twitter.com/LFabiolaMonty/statuses/1291765757013983238">1596815930.0</a></blockquote></div><p>"Booms are made of nylon mesh filled with #sugarcane straws all hand-stitched by Mauritian volunteers, empty plastic bottles used as buoys," described Mauritian journalist Zeenat Hansrod in a tweet. </p>
How to Tackle Oil Spills<p>The method for tackling oil spills depends on several factors, including the type and amount of oil in question, location and weather conditions.</p><p>"Once the oil comes to shore, the more intensive the cleaning technique. You can risk causing further damage," said Nicky Cariglia, an independent consultant at Marittima, who specializes in marine pollution. </p><p>"If you wanted to remove all traces of oil, the techniques available become increasingly aggressive the less oil that remains. In mangroves, you would have the added risk of causing damage by trampling," Cariglia told DW. Highly sensitive mangrove ecosystems line the Mauritius east coast that is threatened by the current spill.</p><p>Because oil normally has a lower density than water, it floats on the surface of the ocean. This means that for clean-up action to be most effective, it should happen very quickly after a spill, before the oil disperses. </p>
- 15,000 Gallon Oil Spill Threatens River and Drinking Water in Native ... ›
- Disastrous Russian Oil Spill Reaches Pristine Arctic Lake - EcoWatch ›
- Mauritius' First Major Oil Spill Poses Environmental Crisis - EcoWatch ›