Vitamin D plays many important roles in the body. It helps the body absorb calcium and maintain bone strength; it fights seasonal depression and helps maintain good mental health; and it even plays a role in keeping our immune systems healthy. All the latest news has hyped up vitamin D deficiency and the many negative health affects—from rickets in children to obesity, high blood pressure and even cancer in adults—that can result from it. Before you work yourself into a tizzy over whether you’re getting enough vitamin D, take a close look at your lifestyle.
The typical adult needs anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes of bright sun exposure to make enough vitamin D. However, a variety of factors—working inside, weak winter sunlight, and so on—can prevent that from happening, making it crucial to find supplemental sources of this important nutrient. Luckily, vitamin D can be found in several natural food sources. Interested in pumping up your natural intake of this essential nutrient? Check out these good food sources of vitamin D!
Fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, sole and flounder are good sources of vitamin D. Salmon contains the highest amounts with between 400 and 500 IU of vitamin D per half fillet. While farm-raised salmon are technically fattier, wild-caught salmon contain more vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids than their farm-raised cousins. (Wild-caught salmon is also a more sustainable option!) Other fish such as tuna and mackerel can contain between one-third and one-fourth of the daily recommended intake of vitamin D.
Fortified milk and other dairy products also provide reasonable amounts of vitamin D. Milk fortification began in 1930s when rickets was a major public health concern, and the practice continues today. A cup of fortified milk contains about one-fifth of the daily recommended intake of vitamin D. Other dairy products, such as ricotta cheese, also contain reasonable amounts of vitamin D, though not nearly as much as milk.
Eggs are another good source of vitamin D. Two large eggs provide about one-tenth of the daily recommended intake of vitamin D. As with salmon, shy away from factory-farm animals for better benefits. Pasture-raised hens produce eggs with four to six times more vitamin D—not to mention more omega-3 fatty acids, more vitamins A and E, and less cholesterol and saturated fat—than factory-raised hens.
Susan Melgren is the Web Editor of Mother Earth Living. Find her on Google+.