If you live in a region of the world where the sun doesn’t always shine, odds are that you’re not getting enough vitamin D. Even if the sun is shining where you live, you need to spend at least 15 minutes in the sun each day to get enough of this critical nutrient. African-Americans, others with dark skin, the elderly, and obese are also more prone to having a vitamin D deficiency. It is estimated that 30-100 percent of Americans, depending on age and community living environments, are deficient in vitamin D. And more than half of all American children are vitamin D deficient.
How Much Vitamin D Do I Need?
According to the National Institutes of Health, the amount of vitamin D needed on a daily basis depends on age, and ranges anywhere from 400 IU to 800 IU. You can check out the chart they provide in more detail here. Vitamin D is essential for bone health, cold prevention, fighting depression, and more. A vitamin D deficiency could increase the risk of osteoporosis, heart disease, some cancers, multiple sclerosis, and even the flu. Brief exposure to the sun might be the easiest way to add a little vitamin D into your life, but this isn’t always realistic during the winter months. Fortunately, there are a few other ways to add this critical nutrient to your diet. There aren’t a whole lot of food sources that contain vitamin D, but this short list will help keep you healthy when the sun isn’t shining.
Although fatty fish doesn’t sound very appetizing, it can be a great source of vitamin D. Look for salmon, herring, and sardines. Sockeye salmon is a good vitamin D source. Three ounces will provide your recommended daily intake.
Not all mushrooms provide vitamin D, so look for certain types of mushrooms that are grown in ultraviolet light. Shiitake and Portobello mushrooms are varieties with high levels of vitamin D.
Eat an egg and you’ll consume 41 IUs of vitamin D, which is 5-8 percent of the recommended daily amount, depending on your intake needs. It’s important to eat the entire egg, since vitamin D in an egg comes from its yolk. Use organic eggs when you can.
Cod Liver Oil
This option might not be the most appetizing, but it’s a surefire way to increase your vitamin D intake. One tablespoon of cod liver oil provides 1,300 IUs of vitamin C, which is about twice the recommended daily allowance.
It’s time to start reading those labels! Many foods are enriched with vitamin D, which means it’s been added. Look for orange juice, rice milk, yogurt, and cereals that have added vitamin D.