Vitamin D in a Vegan Diet

What are the best vegan sources of vitamin D and why is it so important?

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The long winter months and spending less time outdoors means many of us are not getting sufficient vitamin D.

Vitamin D is essential for keeping bones, muscles and teeth healthy, and may also play a part in regulating mood and sleep. There is also some evidence that it can reduce the severity of respiratory infections.1

However, a 2020 study2 published in the journal Clinical Nutrition found “alarmingly high” vitamin D deficiency in the UK, with the incidence increasing in people with darker skin.

Says the study’s lead author, Joshua Sutherland: “The reason that people with darker skin are more at risk is because higher levels of melanin, which increases skin pigmentation, can lessen the skin’s ability to make vitamin D. But this, combined with spending more time indoors and consuming lower vitamin D-containing foods, can foster severe deficiency.”

Other people more at risk include people who do not spend time outdoors and young children.3

in the summertime

From late March until the end of September, the majority of people should be able to make all the vitamin D they need from sunlight on their skin.

We need to be outside towards the middle of the day with our forearms and legs uncovered without sunblock for around 20 minutes or slightly longer if we have darker skin. If this is not realistic, we should look to a supplement to get vitamin D, even in summer.

Vegan sources of vitamin d

Since vitamin D deficiency is all too common across the population, regardless of diet, some foods are already fortified, including breakfast cereals, plant milks and yoghurts.

For vegans, UV-grown mushrooms are probably the best source and can provide a substantial amount of our daily requirements.4 However, all foods, vegan or not, are generally a poor source of vitamin D.

Do vegans need to supplement vitamin D?

For now, Public Health England recommends that everyone in the UK takes a vitamin D supplement in autumn and winter of 10mcg (400 IU) a day.5 For those who don’t spend much time outside or don’t eat foods containing vitamin D, a supplement is sensible all year round.

Vitamin D2 is always suitable for vegans, but vitamin D3 can be derived from animals, so ensure you choose a vegan brand of D3.


1. Vimaleswaran, Karani S, et al. “Vitamin D and Covid-19.” BMJ, 4 Mar. 2021, p. n544,

2. University of South Australia. “”Alarmingly High” Vitamin D Deficiency in the United Kingdom.” ScienceDaily, 15 Dec. 2020, Accessed 5 Dec. 2023.

3. NHS. “Vitamin D – Vitamins and Minerals.” NHS, 3 Aug. 2020, Accessed 5 Dec. 2023.

4. Cardwell, Glenn, et al. “A Review of Mushrooms as a Potential Source of Dietary Vitamin D.” Nutrients, vol. 10, no. 10, 13 Oct. 2018, p. 1498,, Accessed 5 Dec. 2023.

5. Public Health England. “Vitamin D Supplementation during Winter: PHE and NICE Statement.” GOV.UK, Accessed 5 Dec. 2023.

This page was reviewed by Claire Lynch, RD and nutritionist Rohini Bajekal from Plant-Based Health Professionals in November 2023. For more information about vitamin D, see this fact sheet. 

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