What is Vitamin D?
Vitamin D (a.k.a. sunshine vitamin) is a nutrient produced by our body to help absorb calcium better. The most natural way to get Vitamin D is through sunlight. However, during the cold winter we might not be getting enough or if you wear sunscreen on a regular basis. Nature, though, has provided us with other sources of this vitamin which can be found in the some food we eat.
Benefits of Sufficient Vitamin D
- Helps in regulating our mood and reduces depression.
- Helps us grow healthy bones and reduce the risk of osteoporosis.
- It is believed to help in weight loss due to its appetite suppressing effect.
- Helps to maintain the nervous system and the brain.
- It has been linked to reducing the risk of getting some types of cancer.
Depending on the region we live in, there might be a need to supplement our diet with oral vitamins or make sure we are picking foods that contain the recommended daily amount of vitamin D.
Adults( >70 years): 800 IU/20 mcg
Adults (21-70 years): 600 IU/ 15 mcg
Pregnant/Breastfeeding women: 600 IU/ 15 mcg
Kids (ages 1- 20 years) : 600 IU/ 15 mcg
Kids (ages 0-12 months) : 400 IU/ 10 mcg
Sources of Vitamin D in Food Sources
Salmon is a great source of Vitamin D but it varies based on the type of salmon you eat. Farmed salmon contains a little less than its counterpart wild caught salmon. From wild caught salmon, you get about 988 IU per serving as opposed to farmed that provides a whopping 25% less at 741 IU per serving.
Other types of fish like herring, tuna, swordfish are also great sources of vitamin D.
Recipe idea ( Smoked Salmon & Ricotta Cheese Bagel): In a bowl, mix a bit of honey with ricotta cheese and spread on a bagel side; add some smoked salmon and sprinkle on a dash of pepper, minced dill and salt. Enjoy as breakfast or dinner.
The yolk of one large egg provides about 41 IU per serving of vitamin D. Pasture fed chicken produce eggs that are higher in vitamin D because of their exposure to the sun, so look out for pasture or free run eggs in grocery stores over caged eggs.
Recipe idea: Try mashed hard-boiled eggs on avocado toast; mix eggs with bell peppers, cheese and spinach for a delicious frittata.
Fortified foods are food that contain nutrients that do not naturally occur in them. They are aimed at boosting some nutrients and vitamins. Some are fortified with vitamins/nutrients such as calcium, iron, vitamin D and such.
These foods are great for getting extra vitamins in them, they are common in orange juice, cereals, soy products or dairy products such as milk, soy milk or yogurt.
It is important to note that some fortified foods might also come with added sugar and salt and may not be overall good for us. Therefore, be sure to pick ones without these extras that we do not need.
Milk per cup contains about 115 – 124 IU per serving, orange juice can have up to 137 IU per serving.
Cod Liver Oil
Cod Liver oil is more of a supplement, however it is included here because it gives us the highest dosage of vitamin D for a small amount. 1 tablespoon of this oil contains 1360 IU per serving.
Because of the high concentration of vitamin D in the cod liver oil, it is advisable to take caution when using them in other to avoid over consumption of vitamin D.
Taking too much vitamin D can lead to issues like anorexia, frequent urination, weight loss and abnormal heart rhythms.
For the vegetable lovers, vegans or just haters of fish, mushrooms are a yummy alternative for getting some vitamin D into your system.
Mushrooms are grown in different ways, some are commercially grown in a dark environment and as such do not have as much vitamin D in them. The UV exposed mushrooms however, can have a range of 523-568 IU per 50g which is about 97-95% of the recommended daily amount.
Recipe idea ( Butter Garlic Mushrooms): Heat butter or oil in a large skillet or pan over medium high heat; add in onions and saute till soft; next add in mushrooms and cook till golden and crispy; stir in thyme, garlic and green onions for 30 seconds and season with salt and pepper generously. Try this recipe as dinner or as a side dish.
They are various types of organ meats including:
They are regarded as “super foods” because they are rich sources of vitamin and nutrient such as:
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin K
Yes, organ meat! Like it or hate it, 3 ounces arguably yummy beef liver can provide 42 IU per serving of vitamin D, cooked of course.
Recipe idea ( Beef Liver Paté): Melt butter over medium-heat in a skillet; add onions and saute till soft; add in chopped liver and cook until completely done(not over cooked); Place the contents of skillet into a food processor and blend until smooth; add salt and pepper to taste and pulse once more to incorporate. Transfer to a mason jar and store for up to 2 weeks.
Vitamin D is a necessary nutrient that our body needs to function at an optimum. There are certain categories of people that are more prone to this deficiency:
- People over the age of 70 years.
- People that work indoors and are not often exposed to sunlight on a daily basis.
- Individuals with dark skin due to greater amounts of melanin and the skin’s reduced ability to produce vitamin D from sunlight.
- Infants exclusively breastfed with non-vitamin D fortified formula.
- People that are obese that may have had bypass surgery.
- Also, individuals that have inflammatory bowels diseases or conditions causing fat malabsorption such as crohn’s disease, celiac disease, cystic fibrosis or liver disease.