With summer on the horizon, you’re probably planning on spending a lot of time in the sun and packing on sunblock. While there’s nothing wrong with protecting your skin from the sun, did you know that sunblock can also block out the essential vitamin D? Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin found in food and produced when sun rays hit your skin. It is necessary for the absorption of calcium in your digestive tract. Vitamin D also helps maintain blood levels of calcium and phosphate which is essential for bone health.
A deficiency in this vitamin can lead to weak and brittle bones and cause muscle weakness and pain. Vitamin D deficiency has also been linked to numerous conditions such as certain cancers, cardiovascular diseases, and psychological and autoimmune disorders. It can also lead to rickets in children and osteoporosis in adults.
Experts recommend that you get at least 600 IU (International Units) of vitamin D each day. Since vitamin D is not present in most foods, deficiency in this vitamin is very common. Here is a list of foods of Vitamin D rich foods to incorporate into your diet.
Milk is primarily a source of calcium, and to help calcium absorption, it is fortified with vitamin D. This process began in the 1930s when rickets, a disease that causes soft bones, stunted growth, and deformities, affected 80% of the children in Boston. One cup of whole milk contains 140 UI of vitamin D. In addition, it is rich in potassium, phosphorous, riboflavin, and protein.
If you’re a vegan or lactose intolerant, you can reap still get your daily dose of vitamin D with milk alternatives. Similar to cow’s milk soy and almond milk are fortified with vitamin D. One cup of almond milk contains 99 UI of vitamin D. The best thing about almond milk is that is its smooth and nutty flavor.
Fish oils contain a significant amount of vitamin D; therefore, fatty fish like salmon are a great source of the vitamin. In fact, one filet of salmon has 647 UI of vitamin D. Also, one filet abundant in protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and the antioxidant astaxanthin. Astaxanthin is associated with vitamin A and has anti-inflammatory properties. A tender and flaky baked salmon would make for a healthy and delicious dinner.
Like salmon, tuna is high in fatty acids and vitamin D. One can of tuna has 863 UI of vitamin D. It is also a great source of potassium, magnesium, selenium, and zinc. You’re not limited to the usual tuna sandwich, you can toss it in a salad or add to a pasta dish.
Vegans and vegetarians are at a higher risk of vitamin D deficiency because of their limited intake of dairy, meat, and fish. If you have a plant-based diet, make sure to include fortified tofu. Be sure to pay attention to the packaging the next time you go grocery shopping because not all tofu is fortified with vitamin D. One serving of fortified tofu contains 101 UI of vitamin D. Tofu is more versatile than you think. You can bake it, grill it, or add to a delicious stir-fry.
Fortified Orange Juice
While oranges are sufficient in vitamin C and calcium, but they naturally lack vitamin D. Like milk, orange juice is fortified to with vitamin D to increase your body’s absorption of calcium. One cup of orange juice has 101 UI of vitamin D–which is about 17% of your daily recommendation.
The yolk of the egg is loaded with vitamin D. Specifically each egg yolk has about 40 UI of vitamin D and two eggs is around 80 UI. In addition, eggs are high in protein and lutein, an antioxidant helps maintain heart help and protect against eye disorders. There’s no better way to start the day than with a hefty dose of vitamin D.
Speaking of breakfast, cereal is another source of vitamin D. Much like other foods on this list, cereal is fortified to add vitamins and minerals like vitamin D and iron. The reason for this originated in the 1930s, in an attempt to correct nutrient deficiencies. A bowl of whole grain Cheerios has 40 UI of vitamin D and 3 grams of fiber. While cereal is loaded with vitamins and minerals, steer clear away from cereals loaded with added sugar as they would counteract its health benefits.
These little crustaceans are low in calories but high in vitamins including vitamin D. One serving of shrimp has 152 UI of vitamin D. Although they possess essential vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids, shrimp do contain a large amount of cholesterol. However, they are perfectly fine when consumed in moderation. Feel free to enjoy fresh shrimp ceviche this summer–moderately.
UV Exposed Portabella Mushrooms
Regular portabella mushrooms have a very small amount of vitamin D; however, one mushroom grown with UV light can have up to 524 UI of vitamin D. Like discussed earlier, rickets, a bone disease in children caused by a vitamin D deficiency, was widespread in the late 18th century and 19th century. In 1921, physicians Hess and Unger began treating children with rickets with direct sunlight, and they noticed a significant improvement in their condition. Thus, the idea of growing mushrooms in UV light has the same notion. Not only are they high in vitamin D but they are also a great source of potassium, B-complex vitamins, selenium. When shopping for portobello mushrooms, make sure the labels to ensure that it was grown with UV light.