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 remain 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 Dietary Allowance (RDA) for vitamin D is 600 international units (IU) or 15 micrograms (mcg) for most adults. For people over 80 years of age, the RDA is 800 IU (20 mcg).
However, most people do not get enough vitamin D from sunlight, and food is not a good source of this nutrient. Diet alone generally does not allow you to exceed 288 IU per day. It’s no wonder there’s so much vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D deficiency means 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 higher risk for vitamin D deficiency.
To get your fix, you can opt for supplements. Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol), found in animal foods, is generally better absorbed by the body, although plant-based vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) 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.
Salmon is not only a great choice if you’re looking for protein to add to your diet, but it’s also packed with sun vitamins. 60 g of cooked sockeye salmon contains approximately 447 IU of vitamin D. In addition to 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 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 swordfish, in moderation
Swordfish is another favorite. 3 ounces of swordfish provide 566 IU per serving, giving you nearly your daily recommended amount of vitamin D. You should eat at least two servings of fish a week, and this fish is versatile and tasty. However, be careful with 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. However, the health benefits for older people in particular outweigh the risks.
3 Canned tuna provides more than 25% of the recommended daily intake.
3 ounces 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. Give a healthy twist to 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 large amount of vitamin D, some are UV-treated, providing a higher dose of this nutrient. Vitamin D amounts vary depending on the amount of ultraviolet light the mushrooms are exposed to. A serving contains between 124 and 1022 IU per 100 grams (g). Once you’ve got 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 alone 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 reduce your daily vitamin D needs by 10 to 20 percent, depending on the brand.
6 Cereals can be fortified with vitamin D and oatmeal offers fiber
A packet of sugar-free fortified rolled oats can add a solid dose of vitamin D to your diet. Fortified ready-to-eat cereals generally provide you with 40 IU of vitamin D per serving. But they can provide more if you choose a more fortified cereal, which provides 60.2 IU per cup.
7 Eggs contain protein and strengthen the immune system
Egg yolks have always been known to raise LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels. But if you skip them in favor of egg whites, you’ll miss 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. An 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 stops you, try the 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% of the daily value . This understated fish goes well with salads, pasta sauces, and stews.
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