Vegetarians need their vitamin D too!: The essential food sources

Vitamin D is a vital nutrient for the human body as it helps in calcium absorption. Hence, it should be included in your diet, specially if you are a vegetarian. This can be tough as most vegetarian foods do not contain vitamin D. Since it plays an important role in determining the health of a person, it is essential to make a conscious effort to include vitamin D rich foods in your daily routine.This is the only vitamin that can be made by the human body using sunshine. Foods that contain vitamin D include eggs, fortified milk, yogurt, soy products, fatty fish and fortified cereals. Less vitamin D can lead to pain in the lower back, high blood pressure, arthritis, etc whereas excess of the vitamin can result in weight loss, headaches, nausea and other ailments.It is very essential to find the right amount of vitamin D that is required by your body.


Milk is a huge source of vitamin D, more so in an all vegetarian diet. Most brands in the world have milk which has been fortified with vitamin D. This has also been confirmed by the National Institutes of Health in the United States of America. Products such as milk cream, cheese and butter may also contain the vitamin as they are made from milk that has been fortified with vitamin D. Milk should be taken by people of all age groups. However, it is important that children and teenagers drink about two glasses of milk each day. It is commonly available in most places at an affordable price and should be incorporated in everyday diet.


Most yogurts are fortified with vitamin D. Yogurt can be eaten generously by people of all age groups and in most medical conditions. Since there are very few sources of this vitamin amongst vegetarian foods and yogurt contain vitamin D, it is important to identify the brands of yogurt which contain the required percentage of vitamin D. Here are a few major brands that contain about 10 percent of the recommended daily value of vitamin D (per single serving container)

  1. Breyer’s Creme Savers: 30 percent
  2. Dannon Light & Fit: 20 percent (except for strawberry and mixed berry, with 15 percent)
  3. Stonyfield Farm Fat Free: 20 percent


Vitamin D is available in mushrooms but in very small quantities. This can be increased by exposure to ultraviolet light. However, such irradiated mushrooms are not easily available worldwide as per the National-Institute-of-Health-Office-of-Dietary-Supplements. It is important to confirm if you are allergic to mushrooms ,hence it is best to eat it in a small quantity at first. Most people can safely eat 200 gms of mushrooms at one time. It is advisable to include mushroom in your diet atleast once a week. Both men and women can benefit immensely by eating mushrooms.

Orange juice

Most orange juice products have been fortified with vitamin D. This is a result of modern medicine as there was a growing need for additional sources of vitamin D in the vegetarian diet. It often contains calcium too. This helps in fortify the bones in the human body. It is important to ensure that food that contains this vitamin should be taken along with some fat. This helps the vitamin D to be absorbed by the body. You can include a glass of orange juice in your daily diet inorder to be healthy. It can be safely taken by people young and old.

Breakfast cereal

The amount of vitamin D that a breakfast cereal may hold can differ between various brands. Oats as well as other cereal can also be included on a daily basis. Most grown ups can eat a bowl of cereal daily and ensure they have adequate vitamin D. Children should be given cereal in greater quantities as it is essential to ensure they have calcium absorption during their formative years. Cereal is becoming widely popular across several countries these days. It is easily available in most super markets and grocery stores at an affordable price. Eating cereal is good for all age groups and all genders.

Soy products

Tofu is often fortified with added nutrients. As per the general norms, one serving (79 g) Nasoya-light-firm tofu provides 581 IU of vitamin D, and 1 cup Silk light-plain-soy-milk provides 338 IU. Soy milk has added calcium, and contains vitamins A and D. It provides 297 to 313 IU in most brands of soy milk. Certain varieties of soy milk provide less vitamin D. It is important to note this difference and appropriately include soy products in your diet. Silk plain soy yogurt offers 161 IU of vitamin D. Soy products are to be eaten in moderate quantities as excess soy products can be harmful to females beyond teenage.

Fruits and vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are not believed to be very good sources of the vitamin D. There are a few exceptions. A cup of orange juice (fortified with calcium and vitamin D) provides 259 IU of vitamin D. The only vegetable that has vitamin D naturally is mushroom (canned, or cooked). A cup of mushrooms (drained solids) offers 168 IU of vitamin D and a cup of sliced white mushrooms provides 164 IU vitamin D. Fruits and vegetables are safe to be eaten in large quantities at any given time of the day.


Here is a source that does not depend on vegetarianism. Nevertheless, sunlight happens to be the greatest source of vitamin D for the human body and so this discussion will not be complete without the mention of it. When skin is exposed to UV rays , a cholesterol-like compound is changed in to a vitamin D precursor and later on to vitamin D3, (or chole-calciferol). Vitamin D3 is processed by enzymes from your liver and then kidney. 10-15mins of exposure to the sun about three times a week, is enough to create sufficient vitamin D. It can be stored in the body for several months. Over exposure must be avoided.


Margarine is a substitute for butter that is made using vegetable oils. It is a rich source of Vitamin D as most manufacturers fortify their product with the vitamin. As most vegetarians have scarce sources of vitamin D it is a good product to include in your diet atleast once in ten days.

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