The Most Important Nutrient You're Not Getting

January 15, 2010

julie-upton

Vitamin D is the nutrient of the day, year, and even decade. Vitamin D plays a role in maintaining healthy bones, but the sunshine vitamin also helps prevent certain cancers, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic pain, and neurological disorders.

In these dark, cold winter months, especially if you live in the northern half of the U.S., you’re probably lacking vitamin D. Research suggests that about half of all men and women lack vitamin D and up to 70% of our children are deficient.

Individuals at highest risk for vitamin D deficiencies include:

  • Anyone who lives in a cold climate (north of 42° latitude)
  • Children and older adults
  • Those with dark skin
  • Individuals who are overweight or obese

Increasing vitamin D to at least 400 IU per day is the best way to boost vitamin D in the absence of sunlight, and here’s how to do it.

ID the D
Few foods naturally contain high levels of vitamin D. Those that do include things we typically don’t like, such as cod liver oil and sardines. However, eggs and mushrooms are a good source of vitamin D, as well as milk and other dairy products like cheese and yogurt. Some 100% fruit juices, spreads, and cereals are also fortified with vitamin D.

Some of the ways I add vitamin D to my diet include:

  • Slice of Life Vitamin D3 Gummy Vitamins: If you could OD on vitamin D, I would have with these vitamins. These tangy gummy candies are fortified with 1,000 IUs of vitamin D per a two-gummy dose. I generally eat no fewer than six at a time.
  • Eggs and Eggland’s Best eggs: Eggs contain vitamin D, but if you purchase Eggland’s Best, they have four times more vitamin D than ordinary eggs. Eating two EB eggs will provide 40% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin D.
  • Mushrooms are the only fruit or vegetable that naturally contain vitamin D. Similarly to how our skin can manufacture vitamin D through UV rays from the sun, mushrooms can manufacture vitamin D through exposure to sunlight. You can find mushrooms exposed to ultraviolet light that provide 100% of your DV for vitamin D per serving.
  • Wild Alaska Salmon. Wild Alaskan salmon is one of the richest sources of vitamin D you can find with up to 794 IU of vitamin D per 3 ounces cooked or nearly double your total daily intake. And, what’s great is that unlike tuna and other oily fish, wild Alaskan salmon is sustainable and has high quantities of heart-healthy omega-3s that aren’t found in farm-raised varieties.

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