Winter is here in Canada and there is no denying the hardship of the dark months ahead. Depending on your daily routine, it’s not uncommon to wake up and end the workday in complete darkness. Let’s face it, not everyone has the luxury of soaking up the few hours of sunshine we get on some days. Because of this, vitamin D deficiency is quite common in Canada, with 40% of Canadians having insufficient levels of vitamin D in the winter1.
Whether you’re vegan or not, the main sources of vitamin D are fortified foods. However, relying on fortified foods is likely not enough to meet your daily recommended intake of vitamin D. Several weeks of inadequate vitamin D intake can result in a deficiency, so it’s a good idea to supplement your diet during the winter months.
Keep reading to learn more about vegan vitamin D and how to choose the right one for your needs.
Is Vitamin D Vegan?
Whether vitamin D is vegan or not largely depends on the type of vitamin D and where it’s been sourced. There are two forms of vitamin D: vitamin D2 and vitamin D3. The main difference between the two is that vitamin D3 is often sourced from animals, whereas vitamin D2 is always sourced from plants and fungi. Vitamin D2 is what you’ll most often find in fortified foods. Mushrooms also contain vitamin D2.
When it comes to vitamin D supplements, in order to make sure the product is vegan, it’s important to check the label to make sure the product contains D2 and not D3. If it contains vitamin D3, consult with the manufacturer to ensure that the D3 is not sourced from animals. You’ll also want to make sure that the capsule itself is labelled as vegan or vegetarian.
Top 5 Vegan Vitamin D Supplements in Canada
We’ve analyzed dozens of vitamin D supplements in order to provide you with the top 5 vegan vitamin D supplements on the market in Canada. Here are our top picks:
Why we like it
- $0.12 per serving/spray
- 125 servings of 1000 IU of vitamin D3
- Also contains omega-rich oils for better absorption
If taking pills is not your preferred route, Garden of Life’s vitamin D3 liquid spray is a great way to get your vitamin D. Since vitamin D is fat soluble, it’s best absorbed with high-fat foods. For that reason, the spray also contains an omega-rich blend of organic pumpkin seed oil and organic cranberry seed oil.
Each vanilla-flavored spray contains 1000 IU of vitamin D3 that is derived from plant lichen. The bottle contains 58 ml, which is equivalent to 125 servings per bottle.
Why we like it
- $0.18 per serving
- 120 servings of 1000 IU of vitamin D3 & 120 mcg of vitamin K2
- Enhanced vitamin D absorption due to vitamin K
Plantvital combines lichen-derived vitamin D3 with vitamin K2 to create a health-boosting concoction. You might be wondering why vitamin K? Well, vitamin K is another fat-soluble vitamin that is essential for calcium absorption and the health of our bones and teeth. It’s recommended that vitamin K be taken with vitamin D in order to ensure that the calcium ends up in the right place.
Each capsule contains 1000 IU of vitamin D3 and 120 mcg of vitamin K2 in the form of MK7. The bottle contains 120 servings that should last you about 4 months.
Why we like it
- $0.24 per serving
- 90 servings of 1000 IU of vitamin D3 & 850 mcg of B12
- Combines two necessary vegan supplements in one
- Fun and tasty gummy form
Herbaland’s vitamin D3 and B12 gummies are perfect for vegans who want to minimize the number of individual supplements they take daily. Since they’re in tasty gummy form, they’re also more enjoyable to take than a pill. The gummies are made from non-GMO ingredients and are free from sugar, soy, peanuts, and gluten.
Each raspberry-flavored gummy contains 1000 IU of lichen-derived vitamin D3 and 850 mcg of cyanocobalamin-derived vitamin B12. With 90 servings per bottle, each bottle should last you 3 months. As someone who often forgets to take their daily supplements, this is my go-to option for getting my vitamin D and B12 during the winter months.
Why we like it
- $0.11 per serving
- 180 servings of 2500 IU of vitamin D3
- Easy to swallow softgels
- Contains MCT oil for better absorption
If you’re deficient in vitamin D, Benemax’s High Potency vitamin D3 is an excellent choice. Not only does it contain 2500 IU of vegan vitamin D3 per serving, but it also contains MCT oil to enhance absorption. It’s a softgel which makes it much easier to swallow. Benemax’s vitamin D3 is colocalferol-derived and is free from nuts and gluten. It’s also made in Canada!
Each bottle contains 180 servings that should last you 6 months. Costing about $0.11 cents per serving, these are excellent value, especially considering that each serving contains more than twice the amount of vitamin D3 than other supplements.
Why we like it
- $0.24 per serving
- 90 servings of 1000 IU of vitamin D3
- Third-party certified by ISURA
Whole Earth’s Bioenhanced Vitamin D3 is another excellent quality vegan vitamin D supplement. Its vitamin D3 is derived from bioactive cholecalciferol that’s sourced from wild-harvested lichen. The bottle contains 90 capsules with 1000 IU of vitamin D per capsule. The supplement is non-GMO and free from corn, gluten, and soy.
What Are The Best Sources of Vitamin D For Vegans?
Regular moderate sun exposure is the best vegan source of vitamin D, however, if you’re reading this, that’s likely not the answer you’re looking for. When it comes to vegan food sources of vitamin D, your best bet will be fortified foods. Here are some of the main vegan food sources of vitamin D:
- Non-Dairy Milk: Non-dairy milk is often fortified with vitamin D. The quantity varies depending on the brand. You can generally expect to meet about 10% of your daily vitamin D intake requirements from a cup of non-dairy milk, such as Silk Organic Unsweetened Soy or Earth’s Own Oat Milk.
- Fortified Breakfast Cereals: While they are not the gold standard for health, several of Kellogg’s breakfast cereals are vegan and fortified with vitamin D. Some of these include Rice Crispies (5% of daily intake), Special K (8% of daily intake), and even Fruit Loops (8% of daily intake)
- Mushrooms: Mushrooms are the only vegan vitamin D source that isn’t a fortified food. Mushrooms contain vitamin D since they are exposed to UV light during the growing process. They are said to contain about 450 IU of vitamin D-2 per 100 grams of mushrooms2, however, this number will vary.
How much vitamin D do vegans need?
Vegans do not require more or less vitamin D than non-vegans. That said, vegans should follow the same vitamin D intake requirements than the general population. In terms of how much vitamin D is necessary, just like most vitamins and minerals, your daily recommended intake of vitamin D depends on your age and whether you are pregnant or lactating.
According to Health Canada, infants require at least 400 IU of vitamin D per day3. Children and adults between the ages of 1 and 70 require at least 600 IU of vitamin D per day3. Pregnant and lactating women require slightly less, with 600 IU of vitamin D recommended per day3.
Do sun lamps contain vitamin D?
Sun lamps are a popular choice for people suffering from seasonal affective depression (SAD). If you’re like me, you might think a sun lamp is a convenient way to get vitamin D on a vegan diet. However, since sun lamps tend to be UV-free, they do not actually help your body produce vitamin D.
In order for your body to produce vitamin D through light, you would need a light source containing UVB rays. You can find UVC light bulbs in most pet shops, marketed as Reptile Bulbs, however, you’d need many UVB bulbs to get adequate vitamin D. These lights also produce heat which can be dangerous outside a closed reptile cage. Additionally, UV rays are known to cause cancer, so it’s best to avoid this route altogether.