Talk about Vitamin D and the first thing you relate to is sunlight. But there is a lot more to know about Vitamin D and the nutritional value of Vitamin D foods.
What is Vitamin D?
is a fat soluble vitamin. You’ll be surprised to know that it is more than just a vitamin; it acts a prohormone, affects hormone balance and immune regulation of the body. It is different from most of the vitamins needed by our body. The human body can make most of the needed dose of vitamin D by exposure to sunlight.
The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of Vitamin D is measured in International Units (IU). The RDA of vitamin D is –
- 600 IU for an adult
- 400 IU for an infant
- 600 – 2000 IU for pregnant and breastfeeding women
There are Vitamin D supplements available in the market. But it is always a good idea to talk to your doctor before taking vitamin D tablets or capsules. There are two kinds of supplements –
Vitamin D2 and Vitamin D3
Vitamin D Foods
There are various ways in which you can incorporate Vitamin D foods in your diet. The options of Vitamin D rich foods are easily available and if you are a non-vegetarian or even a vegetarian, but not vegan, then it is much easier for you to avoid health issues arising from Vitamin D deficiency. The most easily and naturally available source of Vitamin D is sunlight.
Vitamin D is produced in the body when it is exposed to UVB rays in direct sunlight. In fact, UV rays or sunlight is the best natural source of Vitamin D. UV rays convert chemicals present on your skin into Vitamin D3, which are then sent to the liver and kidneys and transformed to active Vitamin D. It is rightly said that the more time you spend in the sun, the more Vitamin D is produced in your body. Exposing your face, hands, and neck for about 30 minutes will do a lot of good. But make sure you always wear a good quality sunscreen lotion with both UVA and UVB protection. You don’t want your skin to burn under the harmful effects of these rays.
Let’s have a look at the top 10 Vitamin D foods list
1. Cod liver oil
Cod liver oil
is one of the most popular sources of omega 3 fatty acids. In addition, it is also a rich source of Vitamin D. You can easily get cod liver oil capsules and consume them to get the daily dose of Vitamin D and Omega 3 fatty acids. Consuming it regularly promotes healthy and strong bones, improves brain activity, prevents heart diseases, and lowers the risk of cancer.
Salmon is a fish which is relished by many. It has high-fat content, which makes it a rich source of Vitamin D. 1kg salmon constitutes to about 80% of your Vitamin D requirement. It is also a good source of omega 3 fatty acids
which are beneficial for bones and joints and overall body well-being. The vitamin D in salmon helps protect the nervous system from age related damage and can even serve as an antidepressant.
Image Source: EverydayHealth
3. Raw milk
The super food milk is also a fairly good source of Vitamin D. A glass of milk will provide 20% of your requirement of Vitamin D. What you need to remember is that skimming of milk is equivalent to removing Vitamin D, as it is a fat soluble vitamin. Opt for whole fat milk instead of skimmed or toned milk to make sure that you get all the essential nutrients. Other dairy products like cheese, ice-cream, and yogurt do not contain Vitamin D. It is only fluid milk that has this essential nutrient.
Mushrooms are the only plant sources of Vitamin D. Mushrooms grow in natural sunlight which makes it a rich source of Vitamin D. They are also rich in B complex vitamins
– B1, B2, and B5, and minerals like copper. You can consume white mushrooms or shiitake mushrooms and get your dose of Vitamin D. To enhance their vitamin content, you can slice them and put them in direct sunlight before using them for any preparation.
5. Ricotta Cheese
Ricotta cheese is the only source of Vitamin D that comes from milk products. It contains five times more Vitamin D as compared to other types of cheese. Ricotta cheese is a popular variety; it is made from sheep, goat, or cow milk whey left over from the production of cheese. You can use it on pizzas, pasta, sprinkle it on salads, and get all the delicious goodness.
Note – Although salami and ham have a high content of Vitamin D, they also have a high amount of sodium which can alleviate your cholesterol levels. Make sure you only consume salami and ham in a limited amount. Excess of both of these can increase the risk of hypertension, heart problems, and stroke.
Some forms of cereal, mostly fortified cereal is a good source of Vitamin D. So the next time you are at the supermarket to pick up your favorite cereal, make sure to read the nutritional value given at the back of the packaging. Choose the ones that have 100 IU of Vitamin D. Most bran cereals can provide around 131 IU, while flavored ones have only 11 IU of Vitamin D. Make the right choice of health over the taste for long term benefits for your body.
Mackerel is a variety of fish which has high Vitamin D content. It is also a rich source of omega 3
fatty acids making it great for your heart health, bones, joints, and overall body development. About 1 kg of mackerels will contribute to 90% of the RDI of Vitamin D. People who regularly consume mackerels and salmon get all the essential vitamins and minerals that the body cannot produce.
9. Orange Juice
Orange juice is always associated with a hearty breakfast. It is indeed a healthy and refreshing way to kick start your day. One cup orange juice has 100 IU Vitamin D. If you are someone who doesn’t like to drink milk in the morning, or have oranges as a fruit, you can surely drink a glass of orange juice and get all the essential nutrients. Packaged orange juices may also have a high content of Vitamin D, but be cautious about the high sugar levels and calories.
do contain Vitamin D, but only in small amounts. Having one egg daily would fulfill 10% of the daily requirement of Vitamin D. Besides Vitamin D, eggs are great sources of protein and Vitamin B12, so you must definitely include them in your diet.
Image Source: 2bwell.com.au
Vitamin D Benefits
Vitamin D acts more like a hormone in the body. It affects neurotransmitter functioning, heart health, and inflammatory responses. Discussed below are 6 important Vitamin D benefits –
1. Stronger bones
Strong bones are always associated with calcium. But do not ignore the role of Vitamin D. It acts as a strong stimulator for calcium deposition in bones, thus, helping in making your bones strong and healthy. Vitamin D also helps in maintaining phosphorus levels in the body, which is another important factor for healthy and strong bones.
2. Protects from cardiovascular diseases
Having an optimum level of Vitamin D will be beneficial for your body in the long run. It is seen that people with Vitamin D deficiency are at an increased risk of high blood pressure, heart problems, and, hypertension.
3. Supports the immune system
Vitamin D supports ‘killer cells’ of the immune system. These killer cells lie dormant in the body until they are needed to destroy pathogens. They rely on the signals that the body sends to activate them. Vitamin D is one of the most important ingredients for these signals.
4. Reduced risk of Type II diabetes
Type II diabetes is less common, but it can lead to long term adverse effects on your health. Vitamin D plays an important role in reducing the risk of type II diabetes. Insufficient level of Vitamin D may have an adverse effect on insulin secretion and glucose tolerance.
5. Reduced risk of cancer
Sufficient amount of Vitamin D in the body can be helpful in reducing the risk possibility of various types of cancer like colon, breast, ovarian, and prostate. In a recent study, it was found that 70% of women with breast cancer were Vitamin D deficient.
6. Healthy Pregnancy
Pregnant women with Vitamin D deficiency are at a greater risk of needing a cesarean section. It is also associated with gestational diabetes and bacterial vaginosis (most common cause of vaginal infection in pregnant women). Low levels of Vitamin D can lead to atopic childhood diseases and allergic diseases like asthma, eczema, and dermatitis in infants.
7. Avoiding Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
PCOS is a leading cause of infertility in women. A study showed that many women with PCOS had Vitamin D deficiency. Low levels of Vitamin D are associated with various metabolic risk factors, like PCOS etc.
Vitamin D Deficiency
A deficiency of Vitamin D may lead to softening of bones called osteomalacia, or a bone abnormality called rickets. Most common symptoms include –
- Low libido
Consult your doctor about Vitamin D deficiency treatment and Vitamin D supplements.
After knowing all the health benefits and foods rich in vitamin D, it is time to include these Vitamin D foods in your diet and discover a fitter & healthier you!