Are you getting enough vitamin D in your diet? This nutrient is important for the growth of healthy cells, for the proper functioning of your immune system and for the absorption of calcium so that your bones stay strong. It also helps prevent rickets in children and, along with calcium, the “sunshine” vitamin can help prevent osteoporosis in the elderly.
Vitamin D is produced by the body when ultraviolet rays from the sun hit the skin. The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for vitamin D is 600 international units (IU), or 15 micrograms (mcg) for most adults. For people over 80, the RDA is 800 IU (20 mcg).
Yet most people don’t get enough vitamin D through sunlight, and food isn’t a good source of this nutrient. Diet alone generally does not allow to exceed 288 IU per day. No wonder there is so much vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D deficiency means that your blood contains 20 nanograms per milliliter or less of this nutrient. If you’re obese or haven’t had a college education, you’re at greater risk of vitamin D deficiency.
To get your dose, you can opt for supplements. Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol), found in foods of animal origin, is generally better absorbed by the body, although vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) of plant origin is also used in supplements. Still, research is mixed on whether vitamin D supplements offer any real health benefits.
Make sure your diet is rich in the following foods to increase your intake.
Not only is salmon a great option if you’re looking for protein to add to your diet, but it’s also loaded with sunshine vitamins. 60g of cooked sockeye salmon contains approximately 447 IU of vitamin D. Besides vitamin D, salmon is an excellent dietary supplement as it is a good source of healthy protein and omega-3 fatty acids. Fish provides two essential omega-3s: eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid, which you need to get from food. Omega-3s contribute to the good health of the immune, pulmonary, endocrine and cardiovascular systems. Other fatty cold-water fish, such as mackerel and sardines, also have high levels of vitamin D.
2 Savor the swordfish, in moderation
Swordfish is another favorite. 85 grams of swordfish provides 566 IU per serving, bringing you almost to the recommended daily allowance of vitamin D. At least two servings of fish per week should be eaten, and this fish is versatile and tasty. However, beware of children and pregnant women, it is better to avoid large fish, such as swordfish, because they have higher levels of mercury contamination than smaller species with a shorter lifespan. Yet the health benefits for the elderly in particular outweigh the risks.
3 Canned tuna provides more than 25% of the recommended daily intake.
85 grams of canned tuna contains 154 IU of vitamin D. This affordable staple is great for easy lunches like a classic tuna sandwich or tuna salad. Put a healthy spin on your favorite dish with this recipe for Tuna Salad with Artichokes and Ripe Olives. Tuna is accessible and affordable, making it a great option for everyone.
4 Eat Mushrooms for a Versatile Vitamin D Boost
While mushrooms don’t naturally provide a high amount of vitamin D, some are UV treated, which provides a higher dose of this nutrient. The amounts of vitamin D vary depending on the amount of UV light the mushrooms are exposed to. One serving contains between 124 and 1022 IU per 100 grams (g). Once you have them, add sautéed mushrooms to eggs or fish for an even more vitamin D-rich meal. Or make a heartier mushroom dish, like vegetable-stuffed portobellos.
5 Fortified yogurt is a gut-healthy snack
Yogurt is a convenient and tasty snack – and when eaten plain or with fresh fruit, it’s also healthy. This type of dairy product is an excellent source of gut-friendly probiotics, and choosing a fortified variety will cut your daily vitamin D needs by 10 to 20 percent, depending on the brand.
6 Cereals can be fortified with vitamin D and rolled oats offer fiber
A packet of unsweetened, fortified rolled oats can add a solid dose of vitamin D to your diet. Fortified ready-to-eat cereals typically provide you with 40 IU of vitamin D per serving. But they can provide more if you choose a more heavily fortified cereal, which provides 60.2 IU per cup.
7 Eggs contain protein and strengthen the immune system
Egg yolk has always been known to raise LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels. But if you skip them in favor of egg whites, you’ll be missing out on some of the protein and several minerals in the yolks, like zinc and selenium, which play a role in boosting your immune system. And you’re also depriving yourself of vitamin D. One egg yolk contains 41 IU, or 10 percent of the daily value, according to the NIH. Consume them in moderation.
8 Sardines provide you with calcium, omega-3s and protein.
Buying fresh fish can be expensive. If that’s holding you back, try canned sardines. They are more affordable than other forms of fish and are high in protein, heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, calcium and vitamin D. Two sardines from a can provide 46 IU of vitamin D, or 12% daily value. This underrated fish goes well with salads, pasta sauces and stews.