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The nights may be drawing in but thankfully, The Vegan Society is here to help.

We all heard the cry as the season changed and the Northern Hemisphere left summer behind. As we creep deeper into fall, the axis of the Earth points ever-farther away from the light and warmth of the sun. Our days shorten, and the nights grow longer. 

As the summer fades into memory, our minds will be drawn to chunky layered clothes, vibrant trees steadily dropping leaves, and blessedly cooler nights.

Yet, the changes brought about as we move into fall and winter are far more critical to our well-being than we may suspect.

As the days shorten, many of us will need to turn our attention to vitamin D—a fascinating compound essential to our health for which, amazingly, light from the sun is our primary source.

The importance of vitamin D

Vitamins are nutrients our bodies need to work correctly and stay healthy. 1

Integral to the good health of bones, teeth, and muscles, in particular, vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that can be stored in our liver and fatty tissue for a long time.

It works to promote the absorption of calcium from our gut 2 and regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate 3 in the body.

A lack of vitamin D may lead to serious health issues. These include rickets, osteoporosis, and osteomalacia 4, and may result in other health issues, including tiredness and muscle pain. 

Sunshine vitamin

Vitamin D is markedly unique in that it is manufactured when we are exposed to the ultraviolet radiation of sunlight, setting off a chain of reactions in our bodies to synthesize this essential compound.

In the UK, while some of us are able to self-manufacture all the vitamin D we need via sunlight from around late March to the end of September, the decreased levels of ultraviolet light we tend to experience throughout autumn and winter lessens our bodies’ ability to produce the active form of vitamin D we need.

It is difficult for anyone to get enough vitamin D from food. Some foods are fortified with vitamin D2, such as breakfast cereal and alternatives to milk and yogurt. Mushrooms treated with UV rays contain vitamin D 5, as well.

The new packaging is the ‘most environmentally friendly’ yet Credit: The Vegan Society

Yet, food sources of vitamin D remain limited, and everyone – vegans included – should consider giving special attention to the sunshine vitamin through both their diet and supplements. 

Public health guidance in the UK recommends we all take a vitamin D supplement from October to March 6.

People with darker skin (such as those with African, African-Caribbean, or South Asian backgrounds) living in higher latitude countries like the UK may not produce enough vitamin D from sunlight. This leaves them at a higher risk of deficiency, so they are advised to take a vitamin D supplement all year round.

People exposed to less sunlight because they don’t go outdoors often, are in care homes or other medical settings, or cover up most of their skin when outdoors, are also at higher risk of vitamin D deficiency, and should supplement throughout the year.

The impact of COVID-19

A particular quirk of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns over the past 18 months is that many of us will have found ourselves spending more time indoors than we may have done otherwise.

During the pandemic, the NHS attempted to mitigate the effect of this by offering free vitamin D supplements 7 for people at high risk from coronavirus, as these individuals may not have got enough vitamin D from sunlight when they were advised to stay indoors and shield.

Even those who weren’t shielding may have been working from home, losing the daily commute that took us outdoors. 

This additional impact of the national response to COVID-19 has left a good number of us inadvertently not exposed to as much sunlight.

As usual, the result is that our bodies have not produced as much vitamin D as they would during a typical year.

How we supplement in the UK

In February 2021, The Vegan Society set out to learn more about how people in the UK use supplements. Despite the substantial public health recommendation and even the increased messaging during the pandemic, their survey revealed that one in four people in the UK do not take any form of vitamin D supplementation at all in the critical October to March period.

Consistency varied significantly too. While 81 percent of people regularly take some kind of vitamin or supplement, only 26 percent take these daily. Moreover, 18 percent only take them when they remember. In addition, the older people were, the less likely they were to take supplements, and those aged 55-plus were the least likely to take any supplements at all.

Knowing that potentially over 16 million people are not taking any kind of vitamin D supplementation during autumn and fall, The Vegan Society has committed to helping ensure everyone is aware of the public health guidance around vitamin D supplementation. 

Long-dedicated to raising awareness of the need for well-planned vegan diets to include appropriate supplementation that supports and complements a balanced and varied intake of plant-based foods, The Vegan Society developed the VEG 1 multivitamin, their own supplement solution.

Designed by vegans for vegans

Founded in November 1944 and registered as a charity in August 1964, The Vegan Society has, from day one, been determined to promote vegan lifestyles for the benefit of animals, people and the environment, and to help provide accessible health and dietary solutions to vegans.

More time spent inside over the pandemic means it’s likely our bodies have produced less vitamin D Credit: Adobe. Do not use without permission.

Conscious that appropriate supplementation is an integral part of healthy vegan nutrition, The Vegan Society set out to make vegan nutrition easy by developing the VEG 1 multivitamin; an all-in-one supplement designed by vegans for vegans to help provide nutrients that deserve special attention.

While some vitamin D found in fortified foods and supplements is not vegan-friendly since it is derived from lanolin extracted from sheep’s wool, vitamin D3 in VEG 1 is derived from lichen – a vegan source.

To date, VEG 1 remains the most convenient vitamin and mineral supplement of its kind on the market. VEG 1 supports healthy vegan nutrition and includes a dose of vitamin D, providing an easy way to embed this essential vitamin into our daily diets.

More than just convenience, VEG 1 has been created to be affordable and accessible to all. With a six-month supply available for £12.70, and a three-month supply available for £6.60, vegans can achieve all the nutritional support they need for just over £2 per month or an astonishing 7p per day.

More than just Vitamin D

Alongside vitamin D, VEG 1 contains vitamins B12, iodine, selenium, B2, B6, and folic acid, combining seven nutrients into one convenient chewable tablet, so vegans do not need to buy other supplements.

Iodine and selenium are essential nutrients for vegans to consider as most plants do not require them for their growth, so the amount vegans will obtain through their diets will vary and a top-up of both is recommended for vegans living in the UK and many other countries.

The Vegan Society has swathes of information about vitamins on its website Credit: The Vegan Society

Vitamin B12 is an important nutrient for vegans to consider as it is essential for nerve cell maintenance and red blood cell production. As it is not produced by plants—B12 is manufactured by microorganisms—this means it is essential that vegans obtain B12 from fortified foods or supplementation. The extra B vitamins in VEG 1, B2, B6, and folic acid, work to help ensure that the B12 can do its job.

The Vegan Society provides comprehensive information about food groups, fortified foods and selective supplementation, and recommends that the use of VEG 1 or any other supplement should be discussed with a health professional to help ensure they are suitable for your needs.

More environmentally friendly than ever

While VEG 1 has always been gluten, yeast, wheat, and lactose-free, the supplement is now entirely plastic-free too. This is from the container it comes in, to the materials used for postage.

Available to vegans since 2005 in a plastic container, VEG 1 now comes in a 100 percent recyclable aluminum tin, a switch that will save over three tonnes of plastic every year.

Working across the last two years to improve the environmental sustainability of VEG 1, The Vegan Society chose aluminum as, unlike plastic which can only be recycled once, metals can be recycled infinitely without any degradation in quality.

Aluminum has a low moisture transition rate. And, it protects from reactive elements in the air, making it the perfect plastic-free solution to keep VEG 1 fresh and dry with a suitable shelf life. Lighter in weight than plastic too, the change to aluminum lightens the load when transporting VEG 1. And this helps reduce its carbon footprint.

The Vegan Society remains committed to consistently reviewing the sustainability of VEG 1 and all of its products. It implements changes wherever possible to reduce environmental impact while remaining affordable and accessible to as many vegans as possible.

VEG 1 available now

Supportive of a selective approach to supplementation and containing seven key nutrients, VEG 1 is an affordable and accessible—and now more environmentally friendly than ever—multivitamin product for vegans that proves there is no need to complicate a healthy vegan diet.

A chewable tablet is available in orange or blackcurrant flavors, and as a three-month or six-month supply, VEG 1 can be purchased directly from The Vegan Society’s shop.

Customers can also find it via the eBay store, and also on Etsy.

By choosing VEG 1, vegans help support The Vegan Society itself too, as all revenue generated from sales goes directly back to the charity and contributes to their charitable objectives, underpinning their educational and advocacy work, and ultimately helping increase the number of people trying veganism and remaining vegan for life.

As the nights continue to draw in and our daily dose of sunlight continues to dip, it’s important for all of us to take a moment to consider the importance of vitamin D supplementation. We must also listen to our public health professionals. And. do the best by our bodies now and in the years to come. 

Now freshly repackaged, VEG 1 offers an affordable and trustworthy solution for all vegans to best prepare for the months ahead, enabling anyone to underpin a well-balanced diet with minimal fuss and cost while supporting the essential work of The Vegan Society.

*This is a paid-for advertorial

Sources

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vitamins-and-minerals/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7015957/

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vitamins-and-minerals/vitamin-d/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12899511/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6213178/

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/vitamin-d-supplementation-during-winter-phe-and-nice-statement/statement-from-phe-and-nice-on-vitamin-d-supplementation-during-winter

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/people-at-higher-risk/free-vitamin-d-supplements-for-people-at-high-risk/

Leigh Venus

Based in North East England, Leigh has been writing professionally since 2013. Initially writing about food and culture, his work now encompasses animal ethics, plant-based living, and sustainability.