Vitamin D Deficiency, 6 Symptoms, Natural Sources & Supplements

Let’s talk about the importance of Vitamin D. Vitamin D is a vital vitamin for our body, and vitamin D deficiency could be devastating. We need vitamin D to keep our bones, muscles and teeth healthy. When my husband and I became vegan, we wanted to make sure that Vitamin deficiency wasn’t going to affect us.

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Since vitamin B12 does not occur naturally in plants and we can’t get it through a vegan diet (except fortified cereals etc) we must supplement. However, Vitamin D is a different story. It is available to us via diet, supplements and for free with sunlight.

Also see: Vegan B12 vitamins, deficiency symptoms and best sources

What are the symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency?

Firstly, let’s have a look at the symptoms of vitamin D deficiency.

It is not always easy to pinpoint if you are deficient in vitamin D as the symptoms are not always prominent. However, the body might give you a signal that it might lack vitamin D if you experienced any of these symptoms.

  • Joint Pain
  • Bone Pain
  • Muscle weakness
  • Increase the risk of fracture
  • Fatigue
  • Mood Changes
Vitamin d deficiency can cause back issues other bone related problems
Vitamin d deficiency can cause bone-related problems

The major downside of Vitamin D deficiency is that it can cause osteoporosis in adults and bone deformities in children, such as rickets.

Vitamin D in Mushrooms

Most foods have very little vitamin D with the exception of mushrooms particularly shiitake and chanterelles. Mushrooms provide a substantial amount of vitamin D2 in a single serving as an unfortified food source of vitamin D.

Keep in mind that this is not related to the mushrooms that have grown indoors for commercial purposes.

Mushrooms that are grown in the dark for commercial purposes will not have Vitamin D in them as opposed to those that have exposure to sunlight enriched with vitamin D.

It is also a known fact that mushrooms continue to produce vitamin D even after they are harvested as long as they are placed in direct sunlight.

Mushrooms rich in vitamin d

How do mushrooms contain vitamin D

Mushrooms contain ergosterol. Ergosterol is a component of yeast and other fungal cell membranes. They play a similar role as cholesterol functions in animal cells.

Mushrooms rich in vitamin d

Mushrooms that are exposed to ultraviolet light cause a photochemical reaction. This makes ergosterol convert into Vitamin D2. (Vitamin D3 is usually obtained from animal sources).


Always eat mushrooms including stems, since mushrooms provide in addition to vitamin D, B group vitamins and minerals such as selenium, copper, zinc and potassium.

How to add vitamin D to mushrooms

Study shows mushrooms can provide as much vitamin D as supplements.

Boosting vitamin D in mushrooms is very simple and easy to do.

Mushrooms rich in vitamin d

Simply place mushrooms in a jar and let them be under sunlight exposure for a couple of hours before eating.

The level of vitamin D will depend on the strength of the sunlight. If the sun isn’t strong then supplementing would be an alternative to keep an optimum level of vitamin D.

Rich in vitamin d
Mushrooms rich in vitamin d

Is it sufficient to get vitamin D from sunlight?

Vitamin D is in fact not a vitamin, it’s a hormone synthesized with the help of sunlight. This means that our skin actually produces a sufficient amount by using sunlight, the ultraviolet radiation.

Dr Mcdougall, recommends people who are in excellent health should not supplement and must get sunshine. There is no substitute.

Getting vitamin d from the sun

To get a healthful dose of vitamin D you need sunlight on your skin to be exposed to UVB rays and therefore require spending more time outside. People with fair skin wearing a bikini out in the sun for 20 minutes can produce 20,000 IU (International Units) of vitamin D. Compared to a large fatty piece of fish might contain only 1,000 IU. More sun exposure is needed if you have darker skin because darker skin contains more UV-blocking melanin.

Our superior body is also capable of storing the vitamin in the liver and the fatty tissues during the wintertime when the sunlight is most limited.

It is good to be exposed to the sun and get vitamin D naturally making sure that you never burn and damage your skin.

Friends sunbathing on the swimming pool 2022 01 18 23 56 08 utc

If you are worried about vitamin D and not sure if you are receiving a sufficient amount, please contact your doctor and check your levels.

This article was written with no intention to give you medical advice but give you information to empower people on their health.

Supplementing with vitamin D

If you are concerned about the treatment of vitamin d deficiency you may be wondering about supplements. When supplementing with vitamin D, be aware that some types of vitamin D are not suitable for vegans. Vitamin D3 usually isn’t vegan-friendly and can be derived from an animal source such as sheep’s wool. If you wish to supplement with D3 then make sure it’s derived from lichen which is a vegan-friendly source. On the other hand, Vitamin D2 is always suitable for vegans.

Some of the medical communities don’t agree with the use of supplements unless you have a severe vitamin D deficiency. Some doctors even warn against the use of supplements that contain vitamin D due to the possibility of ‘overdosing’ that could cause more harm than good.

So it’s quite likely that you’d only need supplements as a treatment for vitamin d deficiency with the guidance of a medical professional rather than supplements on a regular basis.

The recommended amount of vitamin D (RDA) for adults who live in the USA and Canada is 15–20 μg/day (600–800 IU), 15 μg/day (600 IU) as set by the European Food Safety Authority whereas 10 μg/day (400 IU) in the United Kingdom.

Vitamin d supplements

Four dried shiitake provide about 250 IU of vitamin D. Apart from getting vitamin D in mushrooms, you can also get it from fortified foods such as soy, almond and rice milk (80-120 IU) per cup.

Rich in vitamin d

We’d rather add mushrooms to our diet than take pills but we’re not doctors and we advise that you seek medical advice from someone qualified.

I know that I shouldn’t need to supplement vitamin D. But I do and we order Vitamin D & K2 from iHerb and have a very low dose over the winter months.

Sources & resources

Vitamin D supplement ‘overdosing’ is possible and harmful, warn doctors – The British Medical Journal

Vitamin D Supplements Are Harmful—Sunshine and Food Determine Health – Dr. McDougall’s Health & Medical Center

A Review of Mushrooms as a Potential Source of Dietary Vitamin D – National Library of Medicine


Vitamin D for bones – Royal Osteoporosis Society

How Important is Vitamin D? Facts You Need to Know – T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies

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About the Author

<a href="" target="_self">Inga K</a>

Inga K

Inga became vegan in March 2018. After a series of documentaries that hit hard, she and her husband switched to a plant-based diet within a week and vegan soon after. Inga has a UK Level 5 Advanced Diploma in Diet and Nutrition.


£100 Free Credit Banner is a blog for anyone who strives for a healthy and happy life. We share 100% plant-based (and often healthy and oil-free) recipes and give you the best tips on finding vegan local food whilst travelling and living a plant-based lifestyle focusing on good health and spiritual wellbeing.

We like to consume food, products and services that don’t harm our bodies, animals, or the planet. Use as little as possible and recycle everything.

Each individual’s dietary needs are unique. Please seek advice from a professional nutritionist or your doctor.

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