Vitamin D is often marketed as sunshine vitamin. It’s often associated with bone health and immunity, apart from regulating the absorption of nutrients like calcium and phosphorus.
That’s all well and good, but vitamin D has so much more to offer than what we’ve already heard about it.
Vitamin D is comprised of a group of fat-soluble steroids that play roles akin to hormones in the body. The most important forms of vitamin D are D2 and D3.
But apart from knowing that we can get vitamin D from the sun and that it can help build bones and bolster immunity, how well do you know vitamin D? Are you getting enough just from daily exposure to sunlight?
Well, the truth is, over 40% of American adults are deficient in vitamin D, whose recommended daily allowance for adults under 70 years of age sits at 600 IU.
Vitamin D’s benefits go well over and beyond building bones and strengthening the immune system.
In fact, deficiencies in vitamin D have been linked to a higher incidence of depression and anxiety. Vitamin D can help improve mood, as well as prevent certain cancers, particularly those involving the colon, prostate, and breast.
And, perhaps more especially for men, vitamin D can help improve sexual function and raise testosterone levels for men diagnosed to have low levels of the “male” sexual hormone.
Let’s face the facts, though: sometimes, our personal circumstances such as our jobs or our physical locations disallow us from getting the adequate ultraviolet light exposure to the sun we need to produce enough vitamin D by ourselves. The good thing is that you can get the remainder of your vitamin D from food sources.
But before loading up on vitamin D-heavy foods, it’s best to consult your doctor to determine whether your vitamin D levels need to be monitored. While many Americans lack adequate amounts of vitamin D, it is entirely possible to get too much.
What foods are rich in vitamin D?
Vitamin D2 is found in fortified foods and plant sources, while vitamin D3 is found in meat and dairy. These two essential forms of vitamin D are prerequisites that perform the same bodily functions, although it must be noted that vitamin D3 is better absorbed than its counterpart.
It’s important to remember that the goal is to get adequate vitamin D to prevent deficiencies, rather than focusing on getting one form of vitamin D over the other.
Nevertheless, it’s always advisable to talk to your doctor before going on a regimen of supplementation. Your primary healthcare provider will be able to best determine what course of action you should take to address any nutritional shortcomings.
Need to get more dietary vitamin D? Get more of these vitamin D-rich foods to help get to your recommended daily allowance.
Oily fish like salmon, herring, sardines, mackerel, and swordfish are great sources of vitamin D. Fatty fish aren’t just rich in vitamin D3, but also provide a healthy dose of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids that bolster cardiovascular health.
But perhaps none of them are as rich in vitamin D as cod liver oil is. A teaspoon’s worth of cod liver oil can give you as much as 450 IU of your recommended daily vitamin D allowance. This superfood may also promote better cardiovascular health. That’s because a lack of vitamin D has been associated with cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure. All the more reason to eat fatty fish!
Eggs are the real MVP of the nutritional world. Not only are they packed with muscle-building protein; their yolks also provide as much as 37 IU of vitamin D per serving.
Therefore, your daily serving of two eggs cooked the way you like them is a good way to begin meeting not just protein and healthy fats, but also provide you an energy boost and a healthy amount of vitamin D.
This is great news if you’re into liver and onions. See, beef liver contains as much as 48 IU of vitamin D for every 100 g of cooked beef liver. If liver just isn’t for you (at least you tried), then you will be happy to learn that beef liver is available as a supplement. Check the label on your beef liver supplement to determine if it was sourced from grass-fed cows.
Individuals who don’t consume animal products or those that can’t turn to mushrooms as their primary source of dietary vitamin D. Mushrooms, while comparatively having less vitamin D than the other items on this list (8 IU per 100g serving of mushrooms), are a good low-fat, low-calorie source of vitamin D2 that goes a long way in helping you obtain your daily recommended allowance, particularly for vegans.
Likewise, consuming foods fortified with vitamin D might be the quickest and easiest way for vegans to get their required dose of the vitamin.
Think of fortified foods as the intersection between food and supplements. They are basically regular food items that are fortified with additional vitamins and minerals. You might have seen milk cartons or cereal that have been fortified with vitamin D. While the vitamin D found in these foods aren’t as high as the other choices on this list like fatty fish, consuming them will add up to your vitamin D levels.
Breakfast is the ideal time to get as much vitamin D as your body can take before you start your day. Consider adding an 8 oz glass of skim milk, a cup of fortified breakfast cereal, and then a couple of hard-boiled eggs will give you as much as half of the recommended daily allowance, making it easier for you to get the remainder of your vitamin D from just the right exposure to indirect sunlight, or through other dietary sources such as supplements or foods.