Vitamin D3, or cholecalciferol, helps with the regulation of healthy bones, muscle, immune system, insulin and metabolism. Vitamin D3 is a fat-soluble vitamin that is available in some of the foods that you consume and in supplement form. Children who are vegetarian and have a deficiency have an increased risk of developing a bone disease called rickets. The daily value recommended by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for adults and children over the age of 4 years being 200 IU, or International Units, and 400 IU after the age of 50. These vitamin D3 sources are not a substitute for medical treatment, consult with your health care provider to discuss any potential risks.
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The ultraviolet-B, or UVB, rays from sunlight provide a source most people, including vegetarians, can use to meet some or all of their vitamin D needs, according to the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. Vitamin D3 is synthesized through the skin when you are exposed to the UVB rays from the sunlight. The NIH suggests 5 to 30 minutes of sun exposure several times per week between the hours of 10 am.. and 3 p.m. However, too much sun exposure increases the risk of sunburn or cancer.
Eating foods that contain vitamin D3 naturally is an additional way to consume the vitamins, but for a vegetarian, finding the foods can be difficult. Cheese, egg yolks, yogurt, soy beverages, mushrooms, orange juice and some breakfast cereals may provide limited amounts of vitamin D. In addition, ChooseVeg.com suggests consuming fortified soymilk or rice milk and eating high calcium foods, such as broccoli, kale and collard greens.
If you are a pesco-vegetarian and consume fish, you can add additional vitamin D into your diet by eating salmon, tuna and mackerel. A 4-oz. portion of chinook salmon contains approximately 411 IU.
Vitamin D3 supplements are available in several forms, such as gel caps, liquid and powder. However, vitamin D3 uses lanolin, a type of fat that is obtained from the wool of sheep or fish oil in the synthesis product. Finding a vitamin D3 supplement that is vegetarian approved can be challenging, but some are available, which include Solgar Vitamin D3 Vegetarian capsules and SeekingHealth Vitamin D3 Vegetarian capsules.