Vegetarian Foods High in Vitamin D

Vegetarian Foods High in Vitamin D: Vitamin D is fat-soluble and is essential for optimal health. It is also called the sunshine vitamin because our body makes vitamin D from cholesterol when our skin exposes to sunlight.

D vitamin helps the body maintain adequate levels of phosphate and magnesium, and absorb calcium. These nutrients are of great importance for bones, teeth, and muscles. For mental health, heart function, immune system, and brain development vitamin D also has an important role.  

Low levels of vitamin D are spread worldwide. The deficiency of vitamin D can cause many problems particularly osteoporosis in adults and rickets in children. [1]

However, few foods contain vitamin D, and these are mostly products of animal origin. Therefore, getting enough of this vitamin through your diet can be difficult, especially if you are a vegetarian or vegan.

Simultaneously a small number of foods and techniques can give a boost. 

Vitamin D Foods for Vegetarians

Here are some good sources of vitamin D for vegetarians. Some of these are also suitable for vegans. 


Among vegetarian foods high in vitamin D mushrooms is one of them. When mushrooms are exposed to ultraviolet (UV) light like UV lamps or sunlight they produce vitamin D. Vitamin D2 is the most common form in mushrooms with vitamin D3 and D4 are in fewer amounts. [1]

For example, exposed mushrooms to ultraviolet light and wild mushrooms may contain 3.8 to 28 micrograms of vitamin D for each dose of 100 grams.

In addition, vitamin D level in mushrooms remains high during shelf life and appears to be as effective in increasing the amount of this vitamin in the body as vitamin D supplementation. 

Potentially mushrooms are the only non-animal, unfortified vitamin D source that can supply significant amounts of vitamin D2 in a single dose. [2]

However, most commercially grown mushrooms are likely to have little content of vitamin D as these are grown in the dark and are not exposed to ultraviolet light. [3]

Remember, all wild mushrooms are not edible. As an estimate, there are more than 5000 mushroom species in the world. Only 20 to 25 percent of them have been named, and 3% of these mushrooms are toxic. [4]

Egg Yolks

Egg yolks are another vegetarian foods high in vitamin D. You can get vitamin D from egg yolks, although its amount depends largely on the diet and outdoor life of a chicken.

For example, eggs from chickens, given enriched vitamin D feed may contain up to 150 micrograms (6,000 IU) of vitamin D per egg yolk, while eggs from chickens fed a standard feed contain only 0.4 to 1 micrograms (39 IU) of vitamin D. 

Similarly, chickens that move outdoors are exposed to sunlight and usually have 3 to 4 times more vitamin D in their egg yolks than the chickens that are raised indoors. [5]

Egg yolks from the chicken group raised outdoor had the highest vitamin D content, averaging 14.3 g/100 g compared to the chicken group raised indoor, averaging 11.3 g /100. [6]

Free-range is an effective alternative to supplementing eggs with vitamin D if the farming conditions are attractive enough for hens to range outside. [7]

Also Read: Benefits of Cloves and Milk


A small amount of vitamin D is present in cheese and is a natural source of this vitamin. Primarily vitamin D in cheese is in the form of vitamin D3. In addition to vitamin D3, foods bases on animal sources generally contain some vitamin D in the form of 25 (OH) D. [8]

In most cheese species there are 0.2 to 0.6 micrograms (8 to 24 IU) of vitamin D per 56-gram serving. D3 levels in cheese vary, depending on the cheese production method. Supplementation of vitamin D may also be done on some cheese species, which is listed on the product label or ingredients list. 

Vitamin D content depends on the cheese type that you get, naturally, cheese can contain up to 30 IU of vitamin D in one cup. For example, ricotta cheese is the highest natural source of vitamin D and has 25 IU. 

Adding Muenster and Fontina cheese to the diet is a great choice to get vitamin D. Fontina cheese contains 23 IU in every 100 grams. [9].

6 IUs of vitamin D is present in 28 grams of richer cheese varieties like brie, blue cheese, and Gouda.

Foods Fortified With Vitamin D

Although there is a small amount of vitamin D naturally in some foods, several food products are added with vitamin D. While standards of vitamin D fortification vary from country to country, some of these foods are:

Regular Milk (Cow milk)

Fortification of cow milk depends on the country in which you live as different countries have different standards. You can look for 3 mcg of vitamin D in 240 milliliters of milk. [10]

Non-dairy drinks

Fortification of plant milk such as rice, oat, soy, flaxseed, or milk from almonds – and orange juice are usually done with vitamin D similar to cow’s milk. 

For instance, 1 cup (262 gram) of almond milk fortified with vitamin D contains 2.62 micrograms of this vitamin. [11]


Some dietary yogurts and non-dietary yogurts fortified with vitamin D also provide this vitamin to our body. In these products, there are around 1.3 micrograms of vitamin D in every 100 grams.

Also, yogurt fortified with vitamin D may be helpful in glucose metabolism improvement, and in reducing parathyroid hormone levels in pregnant women and adults and the elderly with or without diabetes and metabolic syndrome. [12]


It is made from soya milk. All tofus are not fortified with vitamin D, but those that provide a good amount of D vitamin. Although nutrient’s presence varies, depends on the brand.

One of the highest vitamin D-containing tofu is Nasoya Lite Silken Tofu that provides 3.8 micrograms of vitamin D per 100 grams. [13]

Cereals, Hot and Cold

Vitamin D is often added to oatmeal and also to ready-to-eat cereals to increase vitamin D content. Cereals and oatmeal contains 510 IU of Vitamin D (D2 plus D3) in every 100 grams, numbers vary by variety of the product [14]


It is a processed food similar in look and taste like butter. Generally, not fortified with vitamin D, vitamin D is added to margarine by several brands. Fourteen grams usually provides about 20 IU (0.5 micrograms)

Because of the inconsistency in fortification standards across borders, looking into the food label of ingredients is the best way to ensure that if the food item contains vitamin D and up to which amount.


Our skin can make vitamin D when exposed to sunlight. At least part of this vitamin is got by most people in this way. 

National Institutes of Health according it is usually enough twice in a week to expose the face, hands, feet or back to the sun for 5 to 30 minutes- without sunscreen – for making optimal amounts of vitamin D. [15] 

However, sun-induced vitamin D depends on your location. Vitamin D synthesis from sunlight is influenced by the seasons, age, skin pigments, pollution, time of day, latitude, altitude, the use of sunscreens, etc. [16]

Excessive sun exposure is said to increase the risk of skin cancer. That’s why the American Academy of Dermatology advises people not to depend on the sun as their main source of vitamin D. [17]

Vitamin D Supplements

If you are worried about vitamin D deficiency in your diet, supplements can be a reliable and stable source. Vitamin D supplements come in two forms: D2 and D3. [18] 

Vitamin D2: It is generally obtained when yeast or mushroom is exposed to ultraviolet light from the sun. 

Vitamin D3: This vitamin is generally derived from fish oil or sheep wool and from leech vegan from is recently developed. 

When vitamin D3 is administration at high doses, 1,250 micrograms (50,000 IU), appear to be more effective than vitamin D2 in increasing and maintaining high levels of vitamin D in the blood. 

However, vitamin D3 benefits over vitamin D2 appear to be very small when taken daily in small doses. [19]

Reading the label on the supplement you can find out what type of vitamin it contains. Most supplements obtained from leech also add vegan certification.

Consuming vitamin D with foods containing fats, its absorption increases because it is a fat-soluble vitamin [20]

Remember that Reference Daily Intake (RDI) Is 10 micrograms from birth to 12 months, 15 micrograms for 1 to 13 years, 15 micrograms for teens (14 to 18 years), 15 micrograms for adults (19 to 70 years), 20 micrograms for adults (71 years and older), 15 micrograms for breastfeeding, teens women and pregnant women. [21]  

Exceeding recommended dose for a long time is not recommended because it can cause toxicity. 

Confusion, pain in the stomach, depression, concentration difficulty, vomiting, hearing loss, and in severe cases, failure of kidney and coma are vitamin D toxicity symptoms. [22]


In our body, vitamin D has several important roles it plays role in bone protection, the immune system, heart, muscles, and calcium absorption. Naturally, a handful of foods is there that contain vitamin D. For vegetarian or vegan sources are scarce.  

To boost vitamin D levels one good way is to spend time in the sunlight however it may not be possible for everyone. So go with the food fortified with vitamin D like, mushrooms, egg yolks, etc. Dietary supplements are other choices. 

Vegetarian foods rich in vitamin D are especially necessary for vegetarians as they did not get enough vitamin D from their daily diet schedule.


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