Soy Milk: Usually Fortified with Vitamin D

Vitamin D is best known for its role in bone health - it helps our body absorb calcium. When Vitamin D is deficient, we absorb very little calcium. That's the main reason that calcium supplements often also contain Vitamin D.

Vitamin D comes from two places - we take it into our bodies in foods and supplements, and our bodies produce it after sunlight exposure. Vitamin D is found naturally in only a few foods like fatty fish (for example, cod liver oil) and egg yolks. Because there are so few natural dietary sources, Vitamin D is added to foods such as fortified soy milk, fortified juice, fortified breakfast cereals, cow's milk, and margarine. Typically, soy milk is fortified with vitamin D2, the vegan form of Vitamin D, while cereals, juice, and margarine are fortified with vitamin D3 derived from sheep's wool.

Current recommendations for Vitamin D are 15 micrograms (600 IU) for children and for adults aged 19 through 70. For this 71 and older, 20 micrgrams (800 IU) are recommended.

A vegan diet can provide adequate amounts of Vitamin D through use of fortified foods like fortified soy milk. Any person, whether vegan or not, who does not include good sources of Vitamin D in his or her diet or take Vitamin D supplements can be at risk for not getting adequate Vitamin D, especially if sunlight exposure is limited.

Vitamin D information courtesy of Reed Mangels, Ph.D., R.D., an adviser to the Vegetarian Resource Group