If you’re a bit of a health news junkie like I am, then you probably know how important it is to get your daily dose of Vitamin D. If not, here's a recap: According to VT columnist Neal D. Barnard, MD, Vitamin D is essential for bone health because it regulates calcium in the blood. Studies also suggest that it may help prevent cancer. In 2010, the Institute of Medicine even raised the recommended daily allowance. (Find out how much you need here.) While you can get Vitamin D from the sun and select vegetarian foods (such as mushrooms, egg yolks, and fortified dairy and non-dairy milks), your best bet for ensuring you are getting enough—especially if you are striving for the upper limit—is to take a sunshine supplement.
But when it comes to choosing the best Vitamin D supplement, the jury has long been out on weather or not the vegan form, D2 (ergocalciferol), is utilized in the body as well as the animal-derived form, D3 (cholecalciferol), which is sourced from fish or lanolin in sheep’s wool. Bhaaaaa-humbug!
Some experts, such as Barnard, aren’t the slightest bit wary about turning to plant-based D2 to satisfy daily requirements: “Although older studies suggested the D3 form was more potent than D2, newer studies show the two to be equally effective.” Yet others remain adamant that D3 is the superior form: “Colecalciferol is produced naturally by the skin with sun exposure and is the optimal form for absorption and utilization,” says Keri Marshall, MS, ND, and Nordic Naturals Chief Medical Officer.
What’s a Vitamin D-seeking vegan to do? Rejoice: vegan Vitamin D3 has hit shelves near you! While there are a handful of vegan D3 products available, I'm a fan of Nordic Naturals Vitamin D3 Vegan, which uses cholecalciferol derived from lichen. (What's a lichen? An organism made up of a fungus and a photosynthetic partner, usually green algae.) This liquid sunshine supplement provides a hefty 1000 I.U. dose and has a mild natural apple flavor. Score!