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Vitamin D is unique in the world of vitamins as it is both a micronutrient and a hormone. As a micronutrient, it can be found in certain animal and fish products, but your body also makes its own vitamin D when exposed to direct sunlight, which is why it’s often called the sunshine vitamin.
Research continues to emerge on how beneficial vitamin D is to our health, says roxana ehsaniMS, RD, CSSD, LDN, Board Certified Sports Dietitian and National Media Spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. We know it plays an important role in many of the body’s functions, including strengthening bones, supporting immune health, regulating cognitive function and mood, and even protecting against conditions like cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, but Ehsani says there’s some evidence that having low levels can also affect the likelihood of depression.
How much vitamin D do you need?
Many people have low levels of vitamin D, as there aren’t many food sources that contain high levels of the vitamin, and many of us don’t get enough of the vitamin from the sun either. Experts recommend getting 800 IU of vitamin D daily, although it varies with age. You should aim to get most of your vitamin D from whole foods, but if there are gaps in your diet, supplements are also a good option.
Be careful with excessive supplementsHowever: more is not always better. Because vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, excess vitamin D is not excreted in the urine or in waste products like water-soluble vitamins; it’s stored in fat, which means eating too much can cause it to build up in your system. Talk to your doctor if you’re interested in getting your vitamin D levels checked and learn more about adding vitamin D to your diet in a healthy way.
Foods rich in vitamin D
If you’ve been advised to add more vitamin D to your diet, here are some of the best sources.
“Wild salmon has more vitamin D than farmed salmon,” says Ehsani, but notes that both types of salmon are good sources. One serving (3 ounces) contains 570 IU. And salmon doesn’t need a lot of work or seasoning to be delicious; You can make a quick and easy dinner by baking salmon in the oven with a little salt, black pepper, and lemon juice. Add some sweet potato and broccoli wedges along with the salmon for a quick and balanced one-skillet dinner. also try steamed salmon or use it in a main dish salad.
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A serving of sardines offers 193 IU of vitamin D, which is 24 percent of your daily value. Canned sardines are readily available and very inexpensive. Try adding them to your pizza or pasta for a burst of savory flavor, or as a snack, top them with smashed avocado on crackers with a sprinkle of flaky sea salt.
A milder flavor option for those who don’t like the fishy flavors of sardines or tuna. A 3-ounce serving of tuna contains 40 IU of vitamin D. And canned tuna is a relatively inexpensive fish option, as well as one you can keep on hand in your pantry. make a batch of White bean and tuna salad for easy lunches for the week.
Hold on to your fingertips! Egg yolks are not the evil cholesterol bombs we once thought. In addition to nutrients like choline, vitamin D makes egg yolks a valuable addition to your diet. In fact, the yolks contain most of the vitamins and minerals. While a yolk has about 5 percent of your daily value for vitamin D, chickens whose feed has been fortified with vitamin D can produce eggs with three to four times that amount. Ehsani says that “although eggs are high in cholesterol, they are still a nutrient-dense food, providing an excellent source of protein, vitamins and minerals.”
There is no set recommendation on how many egg yolks you should or can consume each day, it really depends on what the rest of your diet looks like. If you are consuming a diet high in cholesterol, such as animal protein and saturated fats, such as beef, chicken thighs and chicken skin, whole cheeses and dairy products, Ehsani recommends that you reduce your egg consumption. But if your diet is fairly low in animal protein and you’re consuming a lot of low-fat dairy, consuming one whole egg per day should be fine. Our Breakfast Bowl with Yogurt and Vegetables is a great place to start.
The only non-fortified vegan sources of vitamin D you can find in the produce aisle are mushrooms. Like humans, fungi create vitamin D when exposed to the sun, but it’s a different form of vitamin D: vitamin D2, rather than vitamin D3. Some experts believe that vitamin D2 may not raise blood levels of vitamin D as much as vitamin D3. Still, mushrooms are worth adding to your diet for many other reasons: They’re low in calories and high in fiber and B vitamins. Add grated mushrooms to meatballs either Meat sauceor just throw some portobellos on the grill at your next cookout.
Not all tofu is fortified, but those that are offer about 100 IU (2.5 micrograms) per 3.5-ounce serving. Tofu is a protein-packed food that is rich in many nutrients, including calcium, iron, and vitamin B12, as well as vitamin D. It is also a versatile ingredient that can be Grilled, brushed with barbecue sauce and grilled until crispy, added to soupand even scrambled.
Beef liver offers significant amounts of protein, essential amino acids, vitamin A and iron. Although it is high in cholesterol, enjoying it in moderation adds variety to your diet. A 3.5-ounce serving of cooked beef liver contains approximately 42 IU of vitamin D.
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One of the strategies to improve vitamin D status in the general population was to fortify commonly consumed foods such as cereals, oats, and dairy products. Some orange juices are also sold fortified with vitamin D.
Food to go
Not a fan of any of these foods? Don’t forget that you can also get vitamin D by getting some sun. Set an alarm to soak in 10 to 15 minutes of sun every day around noon, without sunscreen, for maximum absorption.