Vitamin D is having a major moment right now. And for good reason! This important nutrient is linked to strong bones, a healthy immune system, improved mood, and protection against various diseases. Despite its merits, many people fall short on their vitamin D intake. Read on as we shine a light on 9 ways to eat a diet bursting with vitamin D.
1. Catch Some Rays
First things first—where does vitamin D come from? The sun! When UV rays hit your skin, it causes vitamin D production. Get outside for some good old-fashioned sun time when possible.
Aim for 5-30 minutes of midday sunlight, 2-3 times per week. That gives your body adequate time to generate vitamin D without risking skin damage. Just don’t forget the sunscreen!
Pro Tip: Those with darker complexions need longer sun exposure since higher melanin levels inhibit vitamin D absorption.
2. Choose Fatty Fish
By far one of the best natural food sources, fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, sardines, and tuna are overflowing with vitamin D.
These fish store vitamin D in their flesh and fat. A 3-ounce cooked salmon fillet packs 50% of your recommended daily value. Not too shabby!
Try eating fatty fish 2-3 times per week. Salmon makes an easy protein swap for tacos, salads, bowls, and more. Canned tuna and sardines work nicely for sandwiches, toast-toppers, pasta mixes, and snacks.
3. Look for Fortified Foods
Many common grocery items have vitamin D added through fortification. This helpful process boosts nutrient content. Check the ingredient list and nutrition label when shopping to identify fortified items.
Some to look out for include milk, yogurt, orange juice, soy milk, cow’s milk alternatives (like almond milk), cereal and grains.
Fun Fact: Did you know manufacturers fortify products voluntarily? The FDA doesn’t require vitamin D fortification, though they provide guidance.
4. Reconsider Egg Yolks
We’ve been told to limit egg yolks over cholesterol concerns. But theTABLES have turned and nutrition experts now encourage eating whole eggs. The golden egg yolk is nature’s little vitamin D jackpot!
A large egg yolk packs about 40 IU, which is a decent dose. Omelets, breakfast tacos, baked goods...the possibilities are endless. Don’t toss the yolks, folks.
5. Make Magic with Mushrooms
No, not those kind of mushrooms! Plain old mushrooms also boast vitamin D, one of the only non-fortified plant sources. Sweet.
Shiitake and maitake mushrooms include particularly good amounts. Sneak them into soups, sautés, casseroles, and pasta dishes for a flavor and nutrition boost.
Exposure to UV light significantly ramps up mushrooms’ D content. Even just 5-10 minutes of irradiation can drastically increase levels by over 100%!
6. Don’t Overlook Organ Meats
Organ meats don’t get much love. But they offer nutritional redemption through impressively high vitamin D content!
Beef liver has the most at 50 IU per 3-ounce serving. Other standouts include kidney, heart and gizzard.
We know organ meats seem intimidating. Start slowly by adding to stews, chili, casseroles and meatloaf. The strong flavors tend to blend nicely.
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8. Take Supplements as Needed
While dietary sources are best, supplements help bridge intake gaps. Multivitamins typically provide 400-800 IU vitamin D per capsule. Standalone vitamin D supplements are another safe, effective option.
Speak with your doctor about appropriate supplemental doses based on bloodwork and individual health factors. People at higher deficiency risk may temporarily need 2,000-4,000 IU daily.
9. Get Your Levels Tested
This one goes hand-in-hand with supplementation. Testing vitamin D blood levels helps gauge your status and customize intake needs.
Doctors frequently include the 25-hydroxy vitamin D test in routine bloodwork. Optimal values fall between 30-80 ng/mL. Below 30 indicates deficiency requiring treatment.
Certain groups are at higher deficiency risk, like those living in cold climates and people with darker complexions. Testing ensures adequate supplementation.
The Takeaway: Enjoy a Balanced Approach
In review, the three pillars for meeting vitamin D needs include:
Food sources like seafood, eggs, fortified items and organ meats
Supplements (as needed)
Aim for balance across all three areas based on your location, schedule and lifestyle factors. Testing vitamin D blood levels helps assess what balance looks like for you.
Prioritizing this multifaceted nutrient pays dividends through better bone health, disease prevention and reduced risk for various chronic illnesses. And it doesn’t need to be complicated. Simply incorporating more vitamin D-rich foods into everyday meals makes a big impact.
Finally, don’t underestimate the value of enjoying regular outdoor activity for a mood and health boost! Take a cue from BrainPOP’s mantra to #DrinkToThink. Here’s to nourishing our bodies AND minds through strategic approaches to nutrition and wellbeing. Cheers to vitamin D!