According to a Harvard University study, over 1 billion people in the world are reported to have vitamin D deficiency. Are you getting enough of vitamin D and calcium from your diet? If you suffer from lactose intolerance, shun the sun, or strictly follow a vegan diet, you are likely to suffer from vitamin D deficiency, which could have both short-term and long-term health complications. Vitamin D is naturally produced in the body when it is exposed to sunlight. It plays a key role in the synthesis of calcium in the body. So if you do not spend a few minutes in the sun, your body cannot synthesize vitamin D. In that case, it is important to know the dietary vitamin D sources.
Key Vitamin D Sources To Avoid Health Risks of Deficiency
People with dark skin and those are obese and overweight tend to have lower levels of vitamin D. The same holds true if you don’t sunbathe for at least 15 minutes every day.
Vitamin D is essential not only for bone health, but also for protection against colds, flu, and depression. Common symptoms of vitamin D deficiency include muscular and bone pain. Low levels of vitamin D can cause a lot of health problems, including
- asthma in children
- coronary artery disease
- cognitive impairment in adults
- high risk of death from cardiovascular disease
- glucose intolerance
As a fat-soluble vitamin, vitamin D is naturally produced by the body, unlike most other vitamins that you should derive in the form of food supplements. It acts as a pro-hormone, which promotes hormone balance in the body, protects against depression, and reduces the risk of heart disease and blood pressure, besides regulating the immune function.
According to the 2014 study from the University of California-San Diego School of Medicine, people deficient in vitamin D are at a high risk of dying prematurely.
Sunshine Best of All Vitamin D Sources
A 15-minute walk in the sun is all you need every day to stimulate the vitamin D production in your body. When the sun rays hit your skin, especially face, arms, and hands, they help in the production of vitamin D. Although too much exposure to the sun poses a risk of skin cancer, you need to expose your skin for 15-30 minutes to the UVB rays to get your daily dose of vitamin D.
Fatty Fish Have Plenty of Vitamin D
One of the best vitamin D sources, fish provides your body with a good dose of the sunshine vitamin. Herring and Sardines are two good sources of vitamin D that can be taken in canned, cooked, pickled, or smoked form. The nutritionally dense Halibut, Tuna, and Mackerel are also good sources of Vitamin D. When you consume fatty fish, you also get a good omega-3 boost, besides a healthy dose of selenium, phosphorus, and B12. Tuna is rich in niacin and vitamin K, besides vitamin D. So if you eat fatty fish as part of your daily diet, you can get rid of vitamin D deficiency symptoms.
If you do not eat fish, you still have a great source of vitamin D in egg yolk. The yolk is nutrient dense and comprises a good amount of fat, vitamins, and minerals. Eggs sourced from hens raised in the sun or fed vitamin D-enriched feed are rich in vitamin D compared to the commercially raised poultry.
Fortified Foods Offer Good Vitamin D Sources
If you are a vegetarian, you can still derive adequate levels of vitamin D from fortified foods. This includes cow’s milk, plant-based milk, fortified orange juice, cereals, tofu, and oatmeal.
A milk byproduct, ricotta cheese is a good source of vitamin D, comprising five times more compared to other types of cheese.
Mushrooms exposed to sunlight are high in vitamin D and can provide you with a good dose of vitamin D. Sun-exposed mushrooms transform UV rays into vitamin D. The process continues even after they have been harvested. The longer the mushroom exposure to the sun, the higher the amount of vitamin D!
Supplemental Vitamin D Sources
Supplementing your daily diet with vitamin D supplements can help boost your levels of the sunshine vitamin. However, too much of vitamin D can be toxic. The upper limit on the consumption of vitamin D supplements is 4,000 international units (IUs) for people above 9 years of age.
Cod Liver Oil
Another great source of vitamin D, cod liver oil contains 1,300 IUs of the vitamin, which is almost double the daily requirement for your body. So it is a good idea to consume cod liver oil in moderation if your diet lacks vitamin D.
A great vitamin D source, oysters contain a whopping 320 IU of the vitamin per 100 grams. Oysters also supply your body a good dose of vitamin B12, copper, manganese, iron, zinc, and selenium. However, they are high cholesterol foods. As a result, you should consume them in moderation.
The Recommended Daily Allowance of vitamin D is 600 IUs for people under 70 years of age. However, infants should get 400 IU of vitamin D each day, whereas the daily requirement for pregnant and breastfeeding women is 600-2000 IU.
All in all, you should not take more than 4000 IUs per day from different sources of vitamin D, as it may cause toxicity. Since it is a fat-soluble vitamin, you need some kind of fat to absorb it.