What To Eat Now: vegetarian- and vegan-friendly vitamin D – Telegraph.co.uk
Today is the day that the majority
of the working population have to face up to the fact that it will be
dark by the time they leave work for home.
That relentless darkness takes a while to get used to and these
first few days can seem bleak, especially when reminded that it is a
whole 152 days until the clocks go forward again.
While we aren’t blessed with a vast amount of sunlight in this
country, in the summer months we often do have enough to provide the
possibility of getting the 10 – 15 minutes of direct light necessary
for enough vitamin D production to take place in the skin. The UV rays
at this time of year, however, aren’t of the right type to stimulate
this production (even if it didn’t get dark so early), making
supplementation of vitamin D almost essential.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE)
estimate that 1 in 5 adults and 1 in 6 children in England alone may
have low vitamin D status. Food sources include oily fish, egg yolks
and liver, which is bad news for vegetarians and vegans or anyone
wanting to eat less animal produce. What is not widely known is that
some supplements are also animal sourced as their vitamin D content is
extracted from lanolin, itself found in sheeps wool. Ironically this
is not suitable for a large percentage of the people who may be most
eligible for supplementation. Lanolin offers the vitamin D in the form
of D3, cholecalciferol, which is converted into 25-hydroxyvitamin, or
calcidiol, in the liver. More recently it is increasingly understood
that vitamin D2 can be as effective as vitamin D3 in maintaining
circulating concentrations of calcidiol. This may not seem like an
especially important fact but as D2 can be sourced from plants, it
does make supplementation more accessible.
Both lichen and mushrooms yield D2, and many brands have switched or
are switching to D2 derived from lichens, a cross between fungus and algae.
One brand, Vertese, has been designed specifically for vegans
and vegetarians and thus offer gelatin-free capsules too. They have
revamped their range with some new products, which should be available
any day now. Their vitamin D2 capsules offer 1000iu derived from white
button mushrooms (Agaricus bisporus) and is cleverly called Mushroom D.
Bear in mind that vitamin D is directly involved in a whole host of
biochemical processes including insulin sensitivity, mood, bone
density and auto-immune conditions.