If you are a vegan, or raw vegan , and you don’t get exposed to much sunlight (i.e., many of us who live in cities and/or avoid direct sunlight, or use sunscreen when in the sun), you may find yourself diagnosed with Vitamin D deficiency. (I have become interested in this issue because my PCP has told me that, according to my blood tests, I am Vitamin D-deficient.)
According to the Vegetarian Resource Group (VRG) article, “FAQs About Vitamin D,” Vitamin D has been in the news a lot lately. Researchers are looking at whether it plays a role in a multitude of diseases ranging from multiple sclerosis to depression to cancer. Vitamin D has long been known to be important for bone health and is being added to foods like orange juice and to many brands of calcium supplements. Vitamin D has always been looked on as an unusual vitamin because, unlike any other nutrient, our bodies can actually make a substantial amount of vitamin D. Add in the fact that it acts more like a hormone than a vitamin, and you can see why there’s a lot to know about vitamin D.
According to Wikipedia, “Low blood levels of vitamin D are associated with increased mortality, and giving supplementary vitamin D3 to elderly women in institutional care seems to decrease the risk of death. Vitamin D2, alfacalcidol, and calcitriol do not appear to be effective. However, both an excess and a deficiency in vitamin D appear to cause abnormal functioning and premature aging” (my italics).
There’s a slight issue with Vitamin D supplementation: while Vitamin D2 (ergosterol) is produced from yeast, a vegan source, Vitamin D3 *cholecalciferol) is produced from the wool of sheep.
The VRG article states: “Some research suggests that vitamin D2 and vitamin D3 are absorbed equally well,9 although other studies suggest that vitamin D3 is better absorbed.10 If you are treated for a vitamin D deficiency, you may find that your health care provider recommends taking a higher dose of vitamin D2 than of vitamin D3 to compensate for possible differences in absorption.2”
So, it seems to me that, according to current wisdom, if you need more Vitamin D, and you are a raw vegan, your choices are kind of limited: go out in the sunlight, unprotected for at least 15 minutes a day (for me, as a skin cancer survivor, this is not an option), or choose between the vegan Vitamin D2 and take more of it, or get over it and ingest a sheep’s wool derivative, and take less of it (do you wear wool sweaters and/or coats in the winter? I mean, don’t the sheep look awfully hot during the summer? Wouldn’t it be nice to give them a haircut and, then, instead of sweeping their hair into the fire, use it another way? Of course, I am being silly – or not).
There has been some evidence that fresh mushrooms exposed to ultra-violet light may be a source of Vitamin D, but, according to various sources, this needs to be further (i.e., don’t go eating lots of mushrooms in hopes of getting your Vitamin D, just yet).