Your body synthesizes vitamin D in response to sun exposure. That’s why it is referred to as the ‘sunshine vitamin’ sometimes. It is naturally found in many foods as well. Foods with vitamin D help the body with many things, such as maintaining the health of teeth and bones, ensuring immune and cardiovascular health, regulating insulin levels, supporting the health of the brain and the rest of the nervous system, and protecting against conditions such as multiple sclerosis and type 1 diabetes.
Numerous vitamins and minerals are vital for the functioning of our body. Almost all vitamins are essential for some part of our body, and Vitamin D is one of them. The key benefit of consuming Vitamin D is that it supports muscles, nerves, and bone health. It also helps boost your immune system.
Sunlight is a potential source of Vitamin D, but it may not always be possible. During winters in Pakistan, the sun does not come out for days during winters. If you do not go out much in summer, you may not get enough sunlight and Vitamin D.
Being a vegetarian also increases the likelihood of lower Vitamin D intake. Consuming foods rich in them can make up for your daily requirement. Supplements can also prevent Vitamin D deficiency, but you should consult a nutritionist before taking multivitamins for proper guidance.
Even though it is referred to as a vitamin, vitamin D is actually a pro-hormone and not a vitamin. The majority of people are said to have vitamin D deficiency. Fortunately, there are a lot of ways to naturally increase your vitamin D levels. The best way to get vitamin D is to spend some time in the sun. Some foods also contain high Vitamin D content which can be beneficial for you if you aren’t getting enough sunlight.
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Vitamin D Rich Foods
Here are some foods that are rich in Vitamin D:
1. Fatty Fish
Fatty fish such as halibut, tuna, salmon, and cod are one of the best food sources of vitamin D. A 3-ounce serving of fatty fish delivers around 450 IU, which is 75% of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin D.
There are many benefits of eating fish, including their abundance of Omega-3 fatty acids and other essential vitamins, which makes it a delicious and healthy option. Almost all fish carry some level of Vitamin D, but salmon contains the highest levels of Vitamin D compared to other vitamins.
Wild salmon is a better choice if you want more Vitamin D. Other fish, such as swordfish and herring, pack a supple amount of Vitamin D. Though, you should take it in moderation. Pregnant women should consult their doctor before eating fish as it may contain mercury that can be dangerous for the unborn baby.
Egg yolks are a good source of vitamin D. One egg has 41 IU of vitamin D, which is nearly 10% of the daily value. Free range eggs from organic farms have 30% more vitamin D than eggs from factory farms.
The higher vitamin D content found in these eggs may be because of greater sun exposure. Moreover, the eggs from organic farms contain higher levels of calcifediol, which improves absorption of calcium.
Eating two eggs every day can provide 82% of the RDI of Vitamin D, so eating egg yolks can increase your Vitamin D. Eggs get their Vitamin D from the feed contents and sun exposure of the chicken. They are also rich in amino acids and healthy fats, which makes them a wholesome superfood.
Mushrooms are capable of producing vitamin D when exposed to sunlight, just like humans. However, most mushrooms are usually grown in the dark and so they do not contain vitamin D.
Some mushrooms are grown in sunlight to boost vitamin D production. Aside from fortified foods, mushrooms are the only plant-based foods that contain vitamin D.
4. Cod liver oil
A tablespoon of cod liver oil has nearly 1,300 IU of vitamin D. You can take it as a supplement. It is a good source of vitamin A and omega-3s as well and acts as a great immunity booster. Cod liver oil is full of many nutrients that the body requires, including Vitamin D.
In fact, a capsule of cod liver oil exceeds the minimum dosage that an adult body requires. Taking this supplement may be enough to cover your daily required Vitamin D intake, but do not take it before consulting a Nutritionist.
An eight-ounce glass of cow milk has nearly 100 IU of vitamin D, but the amount can vary depending on how much is added. Almond, soy, and rice milk are often fortified as well. You can check the label before buying milk.
6. Beef Liver
Organ meat is very nutritious. A 3.5-ounce serving of cooked beef liver has nearly 50 IUs of vitamin D. It is also a good source of protein, iron, and vitamin A. However, do not go overboard with beef liver as it is high in cholesterol.
Salmon is a popular fatty fish and great source of vitamin D. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Composition Database, one 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of farmed Atlantic salmon contains 526 IU of vitamin D.
Whether the salmon is wild or farmed can make a big difference. On average, wild-caught salmon packs 988 IU of vitamin D per 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving, or 124% of the DV. Some studies have found even higher levels in wild salmon — up to 1,300 IU per serving.
However, farmed salmon contains only 25% of that amount. Still, one serving of farmed salmon provides about 250 IU of vitamin D.
8. Orange Juice
One cup (8 fl oz) of fortified orange juice can add up to 137 IU of vitamin D to your daily total, though the NIH recommends checking the label for exact numbers because counts can vary.
Serve a glass of orange juice with breakfast or use it in this mango-strawberry smoothie recipe, a delicious and portable morning meal.
Keep in mind that it’s generally healthiest to enjoy whole fruit rather than its juice form, since the former still contains filling fiber, so drink juice in moderation. If you have a health condition for which you need to watch your carbohydrate and sugar intake, such as diabetes, it may be best to get your vitamin D from another source.
Work with your healthcare team to figure out how much, if any, orange juice is right for your diet.
Yogurt is a convenient, tasty snack — and when consumed plain or with fresh fruit, it’s healthy, too.
This type of dairy is an excellent source of good-for-the-gut probiotics, and reaching for a fortified variety will knock off between 10 and 20 percent of your daily requirement of vitamin D, depending on the brand. Many fortified varieties are flavored (meaning they’re likely to be sugar bombs), so read the nutrition label to find out what you’re getting.
Like other dairy products, cheese is also an excellent addition to your diet if you want to boost your Vitamin D. Fresh cheese may not contain a lot of Vitamin D, but fortified kinds of cheese can improve your Vitamin D levels. Check the label to check the Vitamin D level in it. You can make various yummy dishes with cheese, such as pizza, lasagna, etc.
Consuming Vitamin D-fortified cereal in the morning can provide you with this nutrient. Some cereals, such as wheat bran flakes, can boost your Vitamin D intake. Choose cereal high in this vitamin D and make it a part of your routine if you want to meet your daily requirement for Vitamin D.
Vitamin D helps absorb calcium and phosphorus and is essential to bone health. It can also support immune function in your body. Most people can get their everyday portion of Vitamin D by going out in the sun, but that may vary according to your geographical location. Vitamin D deficiency can lead to severe health problems. If you feel that you do not get enough of it in a day, consuming foods with Vitamin D can help maintain Vitamin D levels in your body.
Many foods can help combat vitamin D deficiency. These foods include various dairy products, fortified foods, fatty fish, and mushrooms. Add them to your diet to get more Vitamin D.